Biden Kept His Promise on the Hyde Amendment

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Biden Kept His Promise on the Hyde Amendment

Imani Gandy

Abortion rights advocates pushed Biden to exclude the discriminatory Hyde Amendment from his proposed budget.

On Friday, President Joe Biden released his $6 trillion budget proposal, and it doesn’t include the Hyde Amendment.

For decades, the Hyde Amendment has permitted the government to discriminate by excluding abortion care from the health-care services covered for low-income people through the federal Medicaid program.

The amendment is named after Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), and it was first passed in 1976—just three years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

Does it seem fair to you that people with low incomes should be offered a limited set of health-care services just because they’re poor?

Because that’s what the Hyde Amendment does—it cuts off access to health care based on how much money you have.

It’s not just poor people. If you’re in the military or employed by the government or in federal prison or if you receive health care through the federal Indian Health Service, you’re cut off from abortion coverage too (except in cases of rape or life endangerment).

Advocates and organizers secured a promise from Biden during his campaign that he would not submit budgets containing the Hyde Amendment.

He kept his promise. And that illustrates that it is possible to move Biden left. Abortion rights advocates did it.

But keep in mind: The president’s budget isn’t binding on Congress, and a spending bill without Hyde still needs to pass a divided Senate.

And there’s still other anti-abortion garbage left in Biden’s budget. As the National Women’s Law Center points out, the Weldon Amendment is still in the budget. The NWLC tweeted that the amendment “prioritizes personal beliefs over patient care and threatens states’ funding for expanding abortion coverage. It’s time for Weldon to go too.”

Then there’s the Helms Amendment, which is still in the budget as well. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) tweeted Friday that the Helms Amendment, which affects foreign aid, needs to go: “To ensure #ReproRights and #ReproJustice, both the #HydeAmendment AND #HelmsAmendment MUST be repealed!”

Last summer, Schakowsky introduced the “Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act” to repeal the Helms Amendment, which forbids foreign aid money from going toward abortion services. In her op-ed last year for Rewire News Group, Schakowsky wrote:

The Helms Amendment effectively allows the United States to control the health care and bodily autonomy of Black and brown people around the world. It imposes our arbitrary and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions on international communities, hinders billions of individuals from being able to exercise their reproductive rights, and deprives them of the care they want and need. Just like the Hyde Amendment, the Helms Amendment puts reproductive and economic freedom out of reach for women of color in order to advance a conservative political agenda. Both amendments must fall in order for us to realize any vision of health equity and reproductive justice.

And finally? Say the word abortion, Joe. You know you want to. Just say it.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.

For more on the Hyde Amendment: