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Former Washington Journalist
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While Republicans are busy enacting strict new abortion restrictions, Democrats running for president are looking to move in the opposite direction by pushing for the repeal of the so-called Hyde Amendment.
First enacted in 1976 and named for its primary sponsor, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the Hyde Amendment is a federal legislative provision which bans the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases related to rape, incest and life of the mother.
Repeal of the Hyde Amendment would provide low-income women covered by Medicaid access to abortion services, which are guaranteed by the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision.
“This is not about politics. What this is about is about health care, about reproductive freedom, about economic freedom and about equal opportunity for all women. That’s what this is really about,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, one of nearly two dozen Democrats running for president.
Repeal of the Hyde Amendment would be of particular importance if, as many expect, conservatives succeed in having a conservative-dominant Supreme Court now overturn Roe v Wade.
Were that to happen, it would fall to individual states whether abortion would be legal. It would be legal in some states and illegal in others.
“Women of means will still have access to abortions,” Warren said. “Who won’t will be poor women. It will be working women, it will be women who can’t afford to take off three days from work, it will be very young women.
“It will be women who have been raped, it will be women who have been molested by someone in their own family. We do not pass laws that take away that freedom from the women who are most vulnerable,” Warren added.
The potential for Roe v Wade to be overturned and the need for low-income women to find accessible abortion services in such an environment prompted former vice president Joe Biden to change his mind this week and come out for repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” said Biden, who, according to most opinion polling, is the current front-runner among Democrats seeking the presidential nomination.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), another of the Democrats running for president, also supports Hyde Amendment repeal particularly for its effect on African American women along with Republican-led states enacting their new limits on abortion access.
“This assault on women’s reproductive rights is an assault on women, but it’s particularly assault on African American women,” he said. “And the Hyde Amendment to deny people through Medicaid and Medicare abortion rights, that is an assault on African American women, too.”