It’s not very often that we have any semblance of good news regarding reproductive rights in America. But last week, we got a glimmer of hope.
The Hyde Amendment, which went into effect in 1980, restricts federal funding for abortions provided by Medicaid, Medicare, and several other providers that low-income women rely on for healthcare. It means that states can cover abortions but only if they use their own funds and not federal funds… which means women in Republican-run states are effectively on their own. For many liberals, eliminating this amendment is a major goal when it comes to improving our health care system.
But many of those same liberals weren’t sure Biden would do it. He’s not perfect when it comes to separating religion and politics, and the Catholic Church obviously opposes abortion rights. So to see the Hyde Amendment gone from Friday’s proposed budget came as a pleasant surprise to many.
Recall for a moment how Catholic congressman Rep. Henry J. Hyde once argued against abortion in 1996, employing all kinds of cringeworthy religious language:
I am not the least embarrassed to say that I believe one day each of us will be called upon to render an account for what we have done, and maybe more importantly, what we fail to do in our lifetime, and while I believe in a merciful God, I believe in a just God, and I would be terrified at the thought of having to explain at the final judgment why I stood unmoved while Herod’s slaughter of the innocents was being reenacted here in my own country.
Throughout those remarks, Hyde denounced “partial-birth abortion,” which is not a medical term, but rather a right-wing political one. He described the methods used in that procedure as “baby torture” and an “unspeakable horror.”
Yet his own eponymous amendment prevented women from getting the help they needed to obtain abortions earlier in their pregnancies.
… Biden is a faithful Catholic as an individual but he importantly recognizes his duty as the top public executive not to use his civil office to inflict his personal dogma on other citizens. In excising the Hyde Amendment from the budget, he further demonstrates a commitment to equal protection under the law for women, particularly low-income women and women of color.
While we celebrate this development, it’s still vital to call your members of Congress to approve this budget proposal with its exclusion of the Hyde Amendment…
There’s a long road ahead even after Biden’s welcome move.
“Long road ahead” is an understatement. It’s expected that Republicans will fight to reinstate the Hyde Amendment during budget negotiations. Furthermore, changing the policy at all requires approval by Congress — which may be controlled by Democrats but only by the slimmest of margins in the Senate. And even if the ban is successfully reversed, it’s separate from the more pressing concerns regarding abortion restrictions that the Supreme Court and GOP-led state governments could impose.
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