U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver joined several other Democratic lawmakers Tuesday to introduce legislation to repeal an amendment banning government-sponsored insurance plans like Medicaid from providing access to abortion services.
According to a release from DeGette’s office, the legislation would overturn the Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in the 1970s and prevents federal insurance providers from covering abortion services. The bill is called The EACH Woman Act. A spokesperson for DeGette says EACH stands for Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance.
Lawmakers in support of the bill say the amendment disproportionally affects low-income women, young women and women of color. The amendment prohibits abortion service coverage for women in the military, federal employees and their dependents, as well as others who are typically covered by a federal health plan, according to a release from DeGette’s office. The release also says the amendment has “forced one in four low-income women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term” and that denying a woman abortion care can lead to higher poverty rates.
DeGette serves as co-chair of the Congressional Pro-choice Caucus along with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who is co-sponsoring the bill. She noted in a statement Tuesday that for the first time, the U.S. House has a pro-choice majority.
“But, at the same time, we continue to face an administration and a Republican-led Senate that are both determined to make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion in this country,” DeGette said. “This bill would protect women’s access to abortion services and, as co-chair of the Congressional Pro-choice Caucus, getting it passed is one of our top priorities.”
The Hill reported Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California didn’t say whether she would bring the bill to a vote on the floor, though she supports increasing access to abortion services. If it does make it past the House, it would likely face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
During his State of the Union address in January, President Trump criticized state actions supporting abortion access. He asked Congress to pass laws prohibiting so-called “late-term abortions” (it’s not a medically accurate term).
“Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God,” Trump said during his speech.
Additional bill co-sponsors include Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington, as well as U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.