The Hyde Amendment Hurts Black & Brown Women The Most — & We Need To Repeal It Now

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images.
This op-ed was written by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (California), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts), and Jan Schakowsky (Illinois).
For more than four decades, the Hyde Amendment has banned access to abortion for low-income people receiving healthcare through Medicaid. And for the 43 years that it has been in place, the harm has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other communities of color, perpetuating cycles of poverty and economic inequality.
We can no longer ignore calls for policies that affirm that abortion care is healthcare, and healthcare is a fundamental human right which must be guaranteed to all.  
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When Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Jan Schakowsky began working to repeal Hyde years ago and first introduced the EACH Woman Act in 2015, our fight was a lonely one. Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez join the fight in Congress as part of the first-ever pro-choice majority in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. Collectively, our lives span decades of tireless organizing and advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable and those whose voices too often go unheard in the powerful halls of Congress. 
Last week, in partnership with the thousands of women of color and young people across this country organizing in their communities and mobilizing in the streets to repeal Hyde, we filed an amendment to finally repeal the Hyde Amendment from the annual funding bill that will be considered on the House floor this week.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the national uprising against white supremacy and anti-Black state violence, has served as a stark reminder of the deadly consequences of the longstanding systemic racism that has permeated every aspect of our society, including our healthcare system. These connected crises have disproportionately robbed our nation of Black and Brown lives. 
If ever there were a moment to end the Hyde Amendment, this is it. We now know that Black and Latinx pregnant women are more likely to be exposed to and die from COVID-19. We know that women of color, especially Black women, experience disproportionately high maternal and infant mortality rates. Abortion bans, including insurance coverage bans, perpetuate systems of oppression, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy that target people of color, especially Black women, and limit their ability to thrive in their own communities. 
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Reproductive justice is a racial justice issue, and there can be no racial justice, economic justice, or gender justice so long as the Hyde Amendment remains.

Reproductive justice is a racial justice issue, and there can be no racial justice, economic justice, or gender justice so long as the Hyde Amendment remains.

Repealing the Hyde Amendment isn’t a radical idea — a majority of the public agrees with lifting abortion coverage bans. It’s clear that people across this country believe that the amount of money an individual has should not determine whether they can access comprehensive healthcare services, including abortion care. 
As pro-choice Democrats, we must legislate and vote like lives depend on it, because they do. We must speak out and actively dismantle this racist and discriminatory policy. Black and Brown people should not have to continue waiting for their humanity and freedoms to be recognized.
Make no mistake: With women of color and allies leading the way in communities and statehouses across the country and right here in Congress, the Hyde Amendment’s days are numbered. 

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