The Hyde Amendment: 38 Years of Government Sanctioned Discrimination

October 2, 2014

September 30th  marked the 38th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and if you don’t know what that is, you should. It’s the discriminatory policy that bars millions of people across the country from accessing full reproductive health care, including abortion. Passed in 1976 after the right to an abortion was affirmed by Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment has been reauthorized every year with our nation’s annual budget, and unnecessarily bars families who receive their health insurance through the federal government from receiving comprehensive abortion coverage. Those impacted include families on Medicaid, federal employees, Peace Corps members, military service members, and Native families who rely on the Indian Health Service. While the amendment makes an exception for abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and health of the parent, the abortion coverage is virtually impossible to access quickly due to bureaucratic red tape and low rates of reporting for survivors of rape and incest. All the Hyde Amendment actually does is codifies the discrimination of women of color, and poor families, into our healthcare system.

This paternalistic and targeted discrimination is exactly as the amendment’s architect, former Congressman Henry Hyde, intended.

“I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.”


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