Democratic Presidential Candidates Largely Support Repeal of Hyde Amendment

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Last week, a New York Times survey of the Democratic presidential candidates revealed that all of them were willing to repeal the Hyde Amendment. 

The Hyde Amendment—the appropriations legislation first introduced in 1976 by Rep. Henry Hyde — bars federal funding for elective abortions through Medicaid. The amendment has saved over two million preborn children and celebrated its 40th anniversary on September 30.

Even TIME magazine, when reporting on Biden’s decision to withdraw his support of the Hyde Amendment said, ” For years, the Hyde Amendment represented a rare point of bipartisan consensus on abortion in Congress, with lawmakers from both parties agreeing that taxpayer money should not be used to fund abortions, with some exceptions.”

However, the Democratic Party made repealing the Hyde Amendment a plank in their 2016 national platform. Prior to enactment of Hyde, the Medicaid program paid for roughly 300,000 abortions annually.

As TIME magazine pointed out, the Hyde Amendment has been passed every year since 1976, largely preventing federal Medicaid dollars from paying for abortions. However, recently the Democratic Party has called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.

“The Hyde Amendment has effectively served as an abortion ban for those who cannot afford abortion care and all the expenses associated with it,” Maria Elena Pérez, deputy director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, told Fortune this week. “In our Latina/x community, we have seen women working in multiple low-paying jobs that do not provide health coverage.”

Even the left-leaning New York Times stated that the Democratic candidates have embraced “far-reaching” positions when it comes to abortion. The New York Times report states:

The most striking change, beyond individual policies, is how unapologetic candidates’ tone on abortion rights has become.

Advocates have traditionally said they support the right to choose abortion, not abortion itself, and Democrats have said it should be “safe, legal and rare.” Public debate has commonly centered on procedures after 20 weeks’ gestation, which account for less than 1.5 percent of abortions. The discussion has often been on opponents’ terms.

Now, almost every candidate says the next president should actively reframe the debate. Their language focuses on health care, bodily autonomy and, at times, even the idea of abortion as a positive force enabling women to control their lives and increase their economic security.

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