March 13, 2019

Senators Hirono, Duckworth Introduce Legislation to Repeal Hyde Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), along with seven of their Senate Democratic colleagues, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or EACH Woman Act. The bill would repeal the Hyde Amendment, lifting the current ban that prohibits federal health plans and programs such as Medicaid, TRICARE, and the VA from providing coverage for abortion care.

“All women – regardless of their income level or type of health insurance – are deserving of the fundamental right to access the health care they need, including abortion. Unfortunately, for far too many women in this country, that care is out of reach because of cost,” Senator Hirono said. “The Hyde Amendment, like so many other barriers erected to restrict access to abortion, unequally and disproportionately affects low-income women, women of color, young women, and immigrants. Repealing the Hyde Amendment is a necessary step forward to ensuring all women can equally access their constitutionally-protected right to abortion care.”

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed women’s constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions, making clear the government has no place getting in between women and their doctors,” said Senator Duckworth. “But for decades, conservative lawmakers have worked to whittle down that constitutionally-protected right to the point where it’s now effectively inaccessible for low-income women who rely on Medicaid, for female servicemembers and for millions more women nationwide. The Supreme Court didn’t protect these rights only for wealthy women, and they didn’t say only for women who live in certain states. That’s not right, it’s not fair, and it’s certainly not equal—so I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the EACH Woman Act so that every woman in this country has equal access to their constitutionally-protected rights, no matter her income, her race, or her zip code.”

“This bill would help address the unacceptable reality that far too many women, particularly low-income women, young women, women of color, and those who live in rural areas, have the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion in name only—not in practice,” Senator Murray said. “I believe that as the Trump Administration and its allies work as hard as they can to take away access to abortion in our country and move women backward, we need to do even more to lay out our vision for ensuring every woman—regardless of how she is insured, her zip code, or her income—can make the decisions that are right for her.”

“No woman should ever be denied her fundamental reproductive rights,” Senator Harris said. “The Hyde amendment disproportionately targets the most vulnerable populations. I’m proud to co-sponsor the EACH Woman Act, protecting reproductive rights and increasing access to critical health care for all women.”

The EACH Woman Act was introduced to protect every woman’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to reproductive health care and to ensure that women across the country, regardless of their income, source of insurance, race, or location, have access to care. The EACH Woman Act is also cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). The bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) first introduced language that restricted the use of federal funding for abortion services as an amendment to the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act of 1977. This language, which became known as the Hyde Amendment, was eventually added to additional appropriations bills to further restrict access for abortions. Currently, the Hyde Amendment language limits abortion access in Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the VA, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, TRICARE, the Peace Corps, the Indian Health Service, and for women in federal prisons and immigration detention centers. The Hyde Amendment also blocks the District of Columbia from using any local funds to provide for abortion care through its Medicaid program.

Senator Hirono has been a consistent advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Most recently in February, she took the U.S. Senate floor to oppose anti-choice legislation and condemn inflammatory rhetoric surrounding the conversation on abortion and abortion rights, as well as the anti-women policies of the Republican party.

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