Family

Taxpayer funds don't go toward abortion — which makes this move by Congress a bit weird.

Making the Hyde Amendment permanent would be a big step backward for reproductive rights.

For the past 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has prevented federal tax dollars from paying for abortions.

While not a law, the amendment has become a routine addition to federal budgets — and a thorn in the side of reproductive rights advocates. For the most part, however, members of both parties have accepted its place in American politics and haven't put up too much of a fight so long as it remains merely a rider to be renewed on an annual basis and not a permanent law.

Pro- and anti-choice activists square off outside the Supreme Court in 2005. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.


On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would elevate the Hyde Amendment's status from budget rider to law.

On Jan. 13th, Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. It's expected the full House will convene to vote on the bill — which is likely to pass, as it did in 2013 and 2015.

Less certain, however, is what chance the bill stands in the Senate, where it has been voted down after passing the House in each of the previous two attempts. To make it through the Senate, 52 Republicans and eight Democrats would have to join forces to put the bill on the president's desk.

Rep. Chris Smith. Photo by Kris Connor/ Getty Images.

Should it pass both chambers of Congress, President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, fulfilling a campaign promise.

In September, Trump made a series of pledges aimed at courting anti-choice activists. Among those promises were plans to nominate "pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court," sign the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law, defund Planned Parenthood "as long as they continue to perform abortions," and — yes — to make the Hyde Amendment permanent.

Early in the campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spoke out against the Hyde Amendment.

Trump signs an executive order designed to restrict aid to nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion and family planning services. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

You may be asking yourself why it matters whether or not something that's been in effect for 40 years becomes permanent or not — and that's fair.

The truth is the Hyde Amendment, while a consistent part of American life in the post-Roe v. Wade world, disproportionately harms the 15.6 million low-income women who rely on Medicaid for their health care. By making the prohibition permanent, it becomes significantly more difficult to overturn (which would, again, require a majority in the House, a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate, and the signature of the president to change).

Planned Parenthood warns the Hyde Amendment may result in women foregoing necessities like electricity, heat, and food in order to save funds to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket. Additionally, it may lead to dangerous attempts to self-induce an abortion.

Making the Hyde Amendment permanent would be a step backward for reproductive rights. Call your representative and senators and urge them to vote "no" on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.

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