Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a searing indictment of the US Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman's life is in danger, and perfectly explained why the 1977 ban disproportionately impacts some of the nation's most vulnerable patients.
"What this is about is healthcare, about reproductive freedom, about economic freedom and equal opportunity for all women," Warren told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes at a town hall on Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, former Vice President Joe Biden's team confirmed he had broken with the Democratic party and still supported the ban. Warren added: "This is not about politics."
For a long time, reproductive rights advocates have said that the Hyde Amendment makes it impossible for low-income women to have access to abortion care through programs such as Medicaid. The ban also applies to federal health insurance programs, which offer coverage to military personnel, federal employees, inmates in federal prison, Peace Corps volunteers, and more.
Studies have found that women who can't have access to safe, legal abortion care are three times more likely to fall into poverty that those who do. Which is why, for Warren, the Hyde Amendment contributes to the growing inequality in the United States. Research has shown, and Warren accurately pointed out, that even in the face of extreme abortion restrictions, women with enough resources can still get care. And that's exactly what is happening: This year, anti-choice lawmakers at the state level have passed an unprecedented number of measures restricting access to abortion or outright banning the procedure. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 378 abortion restrictions were introduced between January 1 and May 20 of this year.
"Women of means will still have access to abortion — who won’t will be poor women. It will be working women, women who can’t afford to take off three days from work," Warren said of Hyde's impact. "It will be very young women. It will be women who have been raped, women who have been molested by someone in their own family."
She concluded: "We do not pass laws that take away that freedom from the women who are most vulnerable."