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During the 2020 presidential race, Joe Biden promised to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which says federal funds can't be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the woman's life.
The amendment has been included in every enacted federal spending bill since 1976.
Critics say the provision hurts lower-income women, especially women of color. That's because the provision's biggest impact is on Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health insurance to low-income Americans. In all, 16 states fund all or most abortions using state money alone. Most other states only allow abortions under Medicaid in cases or rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, which is allowed under Hyde.
In 2021, the Democratic-majority House for the first time ever passed spending legislation that did not include the Hyde provision. However, by the time that legislation was reconciled with Senate measures and passed into law, the Hyde Amendment was back in place.
Democratic members of the House and Senate have both introduced spending measures for 2023 that do not include the Hyde Amendment, said Morgan Hopkins, president of All* Above All, a group that advocates for abortion access.
But with Republicans taking control of the House in January 2023, the prospects for eliminating the Hyde Amendment have diminished.
"We expect Hyde to be included" in coming spending bills, said Mary Owens, communications director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. She added that the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment would be "non-negotiable" for most congressional Republicans.
So while the Democratic push to eliminate the Hyde Amendment has succeeded in the House during Biden's presidency, the status quo prevailed in the end, and the amendment made it into enacted bills. The likelihood that Biden's promise will succeed in a GOP-controlled House is low.
We rate this promise Stalled.
Guttmacher Institute, "State Funding of Abortion Under Medicaid," accessed Dec. 12, 2022
Email interview with Morgan Hopkins, president of All* Above All, Dec. 9, 2022
Email interview with Mary Owens, communications director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Dec. 9, 2022
Since 1976, every relevant spending bill that passed the House and Senate included an amendment barring the use of federal funds to perform abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the woman's life.
The Hyde amendment, as this provision is known, was absent from the spending bills passed by the House in July, advancing a promise made by Joe Biden during the 2021 presidential campaign.
For decades, the Hyde amendment had been considered a given in congressional spending bills. But in recent years, many Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated about its impact on lower-income women, and especially on women of color.
That's because the provision's biggest impact is on Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health insurance to low-income Americans. Some states have chosen to use their own funds to pay for abortions under Medicaid, but in states that have not followed that course, Medicaid-funded abortions are essentially out of reach for residents.
This year, when the House Democratic majority advanced its annual bills to fund the federal government, none of them included the Hyde amendment.
"In all our conversations with the White House, they're super supportive" of making good on Biden's promise to end the Hyde amendment, said Kelsey Ryland, the federal strategies director for All* Above All, a group that advocates for abortion access.
However, partisan considerations might become an insurmountable obstacle.
No Republican voted for the Hyde-free spending bills either in committee or in final floor consideration, and if this partisan pattern continues in the Senate, then it's likely that senators would have to add the Hyde amendment back in before the spending bills are passed. (For the moment, the need to pass annual spending bills has been mooted by passage of "continuing resolutions" that keep federal funding going at existing levels and with existing restrictions.)
Outside groups are aiming to keep Republican opposition firm: The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, has already launched a six-figure ad campaign targeting Democrats over the removal of the Hyde amendment, Time magazine reported.
Ultimately, Biden's push to eliminate the Hyde amendment has been more successful than at any point in the last 45 years. While that progress may eventually be reversed in the Senate, the status of the funding bills in the Senate is uncertain. For now, we're rating this promise In the Works.
Time magazine, "The House Just Passed Federal Spending Bills Without Abortion Restrictions for the First Time in Decades," July 29, 2021
Interview with Kelsey Ryland, federal strategies director for All* Above All, Dec. 16, 2021