For the first time in nearly 30 years, a US president released a budget that do not forbid federal funding for abortion.
Joe Biden released his full budget proposal for FY2022 on Friday and, in line with his campaign pledge on abortion access, Biden did not include the Hyde Amendment, an annual budget rider that bans the use of federal Medicaid money for almost all abortions. . (There are exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or which would threaten the life of the pregnant person.)
Hyde severely limits abortion coverage for millions of low-income people enrolled in the federal health insurance program, creating a two-tier access system. Advocates and lawmakers have called Hyde discriminatory, harmful and racist. But for years, the Democratic and Republican administrations have upheld the ban due to voter support and anti-abortion stigma.
“We are delighted that President Biden has kept his election promise and submitted a budget without the Hyde Amendment,” said Destiny Lopez, co-chair of All * Above All, a reproductive justice organization that has spearheaded efforts to repeal the abortion coverage bans. “The Hyde Amendment has, for more than 40 years, denied abortion insurance coverage for people who work to make ends meet and today will be the first time in literal decades that our President will submit a budget without the Hyde amendment. ”
Justice and reproductive rights advocates have long noted that a right to abortion without access is only a right in name, and restrictions like Hyde can place often insurmountable barriers to accessing abortion, while by perpetuating racial and economic inequalities – two issues Biden campaigned on. Black, Latin American and LGBTQ people are disproportionately likely to have low incomes and obtain insurance through Medicaid, thus facing the coverage ban.
Abortion at 10 weeks pregnant costs an average of $ 550 and the costs increase as the pregnancy progresses. People face other costs, including unpaid leave, childcare, as most people seeking an abortion are already parents, and travel costs. Low income people may need some time to fundraise because their insurance does not cover abortion and they can be caught in a cruel cycle as the procedure becomes more expensive, or even approach the gestation limit in their condition. .
Taken together, Hyde works like a de facto abortion ban for many. A 2009 literature review estimated that one in four women with restricted Medicaid would have an abortion if their insurance covered it, but were instead forced to carry the pregnancy to term. A 2019 study in Louisiana came to a similar conclusion. Women without a wanted abortion are more likely to live in poverty six months and four years later than those who have an abortion, according to a 2018 study.
A 2019 poll commissioned by All * Above All found that six in 10 registered voters believe Medicaid should cover abortion services, just as it covers other pregnancy-related care. And Lopez said ending Hyde fits perfectly with Biden’s stated priorities for racial equity and economic security. “The president and the administration understand that the same people who are carrying the brunt of this pandemic, and the brunt of this national race justice toll, are those who have been wronged by Hyde,” she said.
Friday’s budget is historic, said Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Abortion Fund Network, a membership organization for self-help groups that help people pay abortion costs and coordinate travel. “For years, Blacks, Indigenous people and people of color have organized to bring to light the injustices related to abortion that have weighed disproportionately on their shoulders, and today they have finally been heard,” Hernandez.
While 16 states use their own funds to cover Medicaid enrollment abortion, in 2019 7.7 million women of reproductive age with Medicaid lived in the 34 states and Washington DC that ban abortion coverage. . Among the women subject to the bans, 51% are women of color. This decision will have less effect in the 12 states that still have not expanded Medicaid, because without higher income thresholds, it is more difficult for low-income adults without children to qualify for the program.
Biden’s budget also removes the ban on abortion coverage for low-income Washington DC residents. It was not clear at time of printing whether the budget included other Hyde-like restrictions that limit coverage for people with Medicare-insured disabilities, as well as federal employees, military personnel, Native Americans using the Indian. Health Service (IHS), Peace Corps Volunteers, Federal Prisoners, and. In fiscal 2015, federal funds only covered 160 abortions.
Hyde has been passed every year since 1976, and it’s not since 1993 that a president has released a budget without Hyde, although that effort by President Bill Clinton has failed in the House. Repeal Hyde was on the Democratic Party platform for the first time in 2016, and in the 2020 cycle, Biden was the last Democratic presidential candidate to back his repeal. Following criticism in June 2019, Biden canceled his long-standing support and said, “I cannot justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and without the ability … to … exercise their constitutionally protected right. ”
Supporters of Hyde’s repeal feared Biden would not follow through on his campaign promise, especially since he hasn’t even uttered the word “abortion” yet. Advocates say this is a major show of support at a critical time: The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear a case regarding a 15-week ban in Mississippi that directly challenges Roe v Wade , the 1973 case that legalized abortion.
Biden’s decision may be largely symbolic, although an important act for defenders. The president’s budget proposal is not binding, and it’s up to Congress to write and pass the final version which is sent to his office. House Appropriations Committee chair Rosa DeLauro has vowed not to include Hyde in future House spending bills, a move that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports. If the budget passes the House, it will face a 50-50 Senate, with several centrist Democratic senators backing Hyde. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Tim Kaine of Virginia all voted to include Hyde in the Covid-19 relief bill passed in March, but the effort ultimately failed.
“As with many progressive issues, the Senate is more difficult,” Lopez said, adding, “We’ll get there. It is important to put down these markers of support, so that the leader of our party places a marker indicating that he supports justice for abortion, that he supports the lifting of the bans on abortion coverage.
Separately, the House introduced legislation known as the Each Act that would permanently repeal the Hyde Amendment, removing it from the annual budget process. Vice-President Kamala Harris co-sponsored the bill when it was first introduced in 2019.