It’s Past Time to Defeat the Hyde Amendment

We are in a moment of reckoning and transformation as a nation. Without a doubt, now is the moment to dismantle systems of oppression and take a stand against racist and discriminatory policies. Empty gestures are not enough. We must enact sweeping policy change and draft budgets that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, no exceptions.

Earlier this month, I was profoundly frustrated and disappointed to learn that the first-ever pro-choice majority in the House of Representatives would advance — for the second year in a row now — a Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) appropriations bill that will maintain the shameful legacy of the Hyde Amendment and continue to push comprehensive reproductive health care out of reach for our nation’s most vulnerable.

For more than four decades, the Hyde Amendment has banned access to abortion for low-income people who receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid. These abortion bans have disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other communities of color, perpetuating cycles of poverty and economic inequality.

Make no mistake, access to healthcare and specifically abortion care is a racial justice issue. Our nation has created systems and structures of oppression that have exacted precise hurt and harm on women of color since the nation’s inception. Those structures have dictated who has access to critical healthcare, economic opportunity, and yes, who has bodily autonomy.

As our nation continues to grapple with connected crises — an unprecedented public health crisis exacerbated by systemic racism and the plague of police brutality disproportionately robbing us of Black and brown lives, the House Democratic majority has a critical responsibility to leverage our power and to speak out against and actively dismantle all racist and discriminatory policies — particularly those that rob people of color, low-income people, immigrants, transgender and gender non-conforming people of comprehensive health care and the right to make decisions over their own bodies.

In this moment where the Trump Administration and anti-choice politicians in legislatures across the country have made it clear that they will stop at nothing to ban abortion care, it is simply no longer enough to say that you are “pro-choice.” I need you to legislate and vote like lives depend on it, because they do.

As Democrats, we must proactively legislate racial and reproductive justice and meaningfully advance policies that affirm that abortion care is health care and that health care is a fundamental human right that must be guaranteed to all.

That’s why, today, along with my sisters in service Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I filed an amendment to finally repeal the Hyde Amendment. Black and brown people cannot afford to wait another budget cycle for their humanity and dignity to be recognized.

In this moment of profound national reckoning, Congress must right the wrongs of the past and make reproductive autonomy a guaranteed right for everyone.

Official account of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Proudly representing the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District.

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