A coalition of leading Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would repeal existing law and require taxpayer-funding of abortion, making it a federal policy to “ensure access to abortion services” for every American.
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), and in the House by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Murray is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
The bill, known as the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Healthcare (EACH) Act, would repeal Section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act, which restricted government funding of abortion. It also would end the Hyde Amendment, a historically bipartisan provision dating to the 1970s that prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions. Until President Biden took office, it had been supported by every Republican and Democratic president, including Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama.
“The Federal Government shall ensure access to abortion services for individuals who are eligible to receive medical care in its own facilities or in facilities with which it contracts to provide medical care,” the bill says. “... A person’s income level, wealth, or type of insurance should not prevent them from having access to a full range of pregnancy-related health care, including abortion services.”
The bill’s language says it will “ensure affordable abortion coverage and care for every person.”
The Hyde Amendment has saved more than 2 million unborn lives, according to supporters. The bill itself acknowledges that “25 percent of women covered by Medicaid seeking abortion services must carry their pregnancies to term” because they are unable to afford an abortion.
The sponsors framed the issue as one of equality.
“Let’s call this amendment what it is: It’s anti-choice and it’s blatantly racist,” Lee said Wednesday, according to the Huffington Post. “We know it disproportionately impacts low-income people and women of color. It should never have been signed into law and it’s way past time that it was repealed. The Hyde Amendment has been used by anti-choice politicians to keep abortion care out of the reach for people already marginalized by our health care system.”
The bill says, “all people should have access to abortion services” regardless of “actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, language, ancestry, citizenship, immigration status, sex (including a sex stereotype; pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition; sexual orientation or gender identity; and sex characteristics), age, disability, or sex work status or behavior.”
Earlier this year, a coalition of 200 House Republicans signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders declaring they won’t support any budget bill that does not include the Hyde Amendment.
“The Hyde Amendment alone has saved the lives of over 2 million innocent babies and continues to protect the conscience rights of a vast majority of Americans opposed to publicly funded abortions,” the letter said.
The Hyde Amendment also is popular in public opinion surveys, the letter said.
200 House Republicans Declare ‘Unified Opposition’ to Tax-Funded Abortion
Democrats, in Hearing, Urge America to Embrace Tax-Funded Abortion: ‘the Time Has Come’
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.