Hyde Amendment not in Biden’s budget, signaling change in abortion policy

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President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget proposal breaks with four decades of history by omitting a ban on using taxpayer money to pay for abortion.

The Hyde Amendment was first attached to the 1977 budget appropriation for Medicaid. He said the abortion could not be funded with federal Medicaid money unless the woman’s life was put at risk by the pregnancy. Exceptions for rape and incest were added later.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which supports federal funding for abortion, said Medicaid-paid abortions jumped to an estimated 300,000 a year as a result of the amendment. In 2019, nearly 14 million women of reproductive age were receiving Medicaid, or 1 in 5 women aged 15 to 49, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While Congress has the final say on the budget, leaving the amendment out of the proposal is supposed to signal a change in Biden’s personal stance on the matter.

“For more than four decades, the Hyde Amendment, an annual budget rider, banned federal Medicaid funding for abortion, except in rare circumstances. For most of that time, Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, ”the National Review reported. “” The government shouldn’t tell those who are strongly against abortion, like you and me, that we have to pay for them, “Biden wrote to a voter in 1994. Biden ultimately decided to back the funding of abortion by Medicaid in June 2019 due to pressure from Democratic rivals and progressive activists during the presidential primary.

Public polls generally show that most Americans, including many who are not opposed to abortion, do not want tax dollars to pay for abortion.

“In every poll, a plurality of Americans oppose public funding of abortions. In all but one poll this plurality is in the majority, ”Slate reported. “The questions vary, but the result is the same. Slate noted that respondents support a ban on federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape or to save a woman’s life, according to a 2019 Politico / Morning Consult poll, as well as surveys. conducted by PRRI (2018), Marist (2019) and Politico / Harvard (2016). ). The results were also true in a 2016 YouGov poll.

“These polls are not close. The average spread between pro-fund and anti-fund positions is 19 percentage points, ”the article says.

Slate quoted the YouGov poll: While “66% of respondents said abortion decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, 55% supported a ban on the use of federal funds. A lot of people seem to think that the right to choose abortion is compatible with the right not to pay for the abortions of others, ”Slate added.

A story of change

The Hyde Amendment is named after former Rep. Henry J. Hyde, R-Ill., Who was known for his opposition to abortion.

In the early 1980s, the ban on using federal funds for abortion extended far beyond Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Children’s Medicare Program, Indian Health Services, Medicare, Federal Medicare for Military Families, Immigration Services, Veterans, the federal prison system, insurance for federal employees, the Peace Corps, and residents of Washington, DC, have all been subject to the ban.

The House approved the permanence of the Hyde Amendment in 2017, but the Senate never considered it.

Other laws have also addressed the public funding of abortion. In 1980, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of states creating their own versions of the Hyde Amendment. Some states have added provisions allowing public funding for abortion in cases of fetal malformation or when the pregnancy threatens “serious health problems” for the woman.

A briefing from the Guttmacher Institute says that as of June 1, 33 states and Washington, DC, are following the federal standard that no abortion can be paid for with federal funds except in cases of life threatening, rape and incest. Four provide public funds for “fetal malformation” abortion. Four others, including Utah, fund abortions to prevent “serious and lasting damage to a person’s physical health.” He says a state does not enforce federal exceptions to the ban on rape or incest. And 16 states are ordering Medicaid to cover all or most of the costs of medically necessary abortions – seven of them voluntarily, while the other nine follow guidelines under a court order.

Other changes relate to the use of federal funding for abortion in different areas. The Helms Amendment, for example, prohibits US foreign aid from paying for abortion or promoting abortion. Helms preceded the Hyde Amendment. And the Mexico City policy, created in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan – the so-called “global gag rule” – prevents foreign non-governmental organizations that receive US money for planning. family to use any funding, regardless of source, to provide abortion services, abortion counseling or referral. Since then, Republican presidents have invoked the policy, while Democratic presidents have revoked it, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Guttmacher said the United States was the “leading donor in the area of ​​international family planning and reproductive health,” which they saw as an effective tool in preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Division problem

The reaction to not including the amendment in the President’s budget proposal has been swift – and widely divided.

President “Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, before realizing he couldn’t get the Democratic Party nomination without making big promises to the abortion lobby,” said Eric J. Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. Deseret News by e-mail. “Now abortion policy is set by Planned Parenthood, rather than the American voters Biden claims to want to unite. Americans are united in their opposition to taxpayer funding for abortion, but Biden ignores them to bid for Planned Parenthood. “

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has debated whether to allow Biden and other Catholic elected officials to go to communion if they support abortion rights. NPR reported that not all 158 Catholics in Congress agree on abortion. He said that the Vatican’s “principal executor of doctrine”, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, advised against refusing Communion. He warned in a letter that such a policy would require conversations between Catholic bishops first, and then with politicians who might be affected.

The conference chair directly addressed the deletion of the Hyde amendment. “No member of our great nation is weaker, more vulnerable or less protected than the child in the womb,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas. “There are aspects in President Biden’s budget proposal that will help vulnerable people. However, Congress must reject the administration’s proposal to subsidize the death of unborn children, ”noting both broad bipartisan agreement and diverse support among citizens.

Among those who welcomed the omission of the amendment, Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, released a statement that budgets represent a nation’s values, “and Biden’s budget is a examining what it really means to center women and their families in the recovery of our country Removing barriers to abortion care is an essential part of these efforts.

She called leaving the amendment out of the budget “an important first step towards ending the many ways our budget and federal policies make it harder to access this critical care,” and said the bans imposed ” the greatest burden on people of color and those who can least afford care.

“We now look to Congress to take bold action that protects everyone’s right to available and affordable abortion care,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called “restoring abortion funding for poor women … an immediate priority for the ACLU reproductive freedom project.” According to the agency, state and federal rules “prevent Medicaid recipients from exercising their constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.”

While the Hyde Amendment could change federal funding policy, state legislatures are also targeting abortion in unrelated measures, with many hoping to capitalize on a conservative change from the Supreme Court. Some predict that Roe v. Wade, who legalized abortion, will be reduced.

As of May 16, state legislatures had introduced 549 new abortion restrictions, including 165 abortion bans in 47 states. Guttmacher reported that “69 of these restrictions have been enacted in 14 states, including nine bans.”

Those who oppose abortion are also basing their hopes on a case the Supreme Court has agreed to consider. Challenged Mississippi law prohibits most 15-week abortions. NPR calls it a case that could “open the door to a deep erosion of the Roe” and related precedents securing abortion rights. “

“Abortion destroys both lives and families,” said Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project. “For this reason, it is very encouraging to see the Supreme Court agree to take up the case of Mississippi law protecting the unborn child.

“Half a century of legalized abortion has been devastating for the American family. If the deaths of over 60 million unborn children weren’t serious enough – and it’s horrible – research has also suggested a link between the legalization of abortion and the collapse in our marriage rate. country, ”Schilling told Deseret News.

He said he hoped the Supreme Court “will finally address Roe v’s pernicious anti-life, anti-family precedent. Wade ”and will declare laws like the Mississippi Constitution.

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