In the second blow against abortion access in as many days, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday afternoon to pass H.R. 7—an anti-abortion bill that would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, and further restrict abortion access for low-income women, federal government employees, military women stationed overseas, and women in the Peace Corps.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 238-183, codifies the Hyde Amendment, a rule passed in 1976 that prohibits any taxpayer money from being used to fund abortions. What H.R. 7 will do, in effect, is cut off taxpayer funding to insurance plans that choose to cover abortion, even though those funds have been prohibited for use on abortion care ever since the Hyde Amendment was passed four decades ago. That's why the bill's title, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017," is misleading—it's already illegal in the United States for federal tax dollars to be used to fund abortions.
H.R. 7 also takes the Hyde Amendment a bit farther, and would prohibit abortion coverage from being offered in multi-state health insurance plans created under the Affordable Care Act. According to a statement released by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the bill would cause millions of American women to lose insurance coverage for abortion.
Many Democrats who stood to debate against the passage of H.R. 7 cited the Women's March as proof that women in the country demand access to reproductive healthcare.
"It's particularly shameful that politicians in Congress are voting to restrict a woman's ability to get basic health care services just three days after millions of women, men, and families mobilized and marched for their rights," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement released Tuesday.
Opponents of both the Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7 argue the rule puts a particular strain on low-income women, who rely on Medicaid for healthcare but cannot use Medicaid for abortion care. A chilling example of what low-income women are forced to endure when abortion care is unaffordable is the story of Rosie Jimenez, who died of complications from an unsafe, illegal abortion just months after the Hyde Amendment was passed in the '70s.
Hillary Clinton had promised she would put an end to the Hyde Amendment altogether during her campaign, but Congress has no such intent on doing the same under President Donald Trump. H.R. 7 will next head to the Senate for a vote.
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