For the First Time in Decades, House Passes Spending Bill Without Abortion Coverage Bans

On July 29, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill free of the Hyde amendment, the Weldon amendment, and the D.C. ban on abortion coverage through Medicaid. Also included in the bill is increased support for the Title X Family Planning Program and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

The Hyde amendment, a racist policy originally enacted by Representative Henry Hyde in 1976, blocks people on Medicaid and those who have federal insurance, such as federal employees and their dependents, and people in federal prison or detention, among others, from accessing abortion care. This funding restriction not only allows lawmakers to interfere in the personal health of patients, but also prevents people from exercising reproductive choice and bodily autonomy. The Weldon amendment prohibits discrimination against health care entities like hospitals, health insurance plans, doctors and nurses that refuse to provide, cover, pay for, or refer for abortion. It allows health care providers to put their personal beliefs over patient care. The D.C. ban on Medicaid abortions overrides the District’s decision to allow their own tax-dollars to be used to cover abortions through the D.C. Medicaid program.

Each of these restrictions have prevented comprehensive access to abortion care for decades—the burden of which has largely fallen on already marginalized communities including people of color, LGBTQ+ people, women, young people, indigenous individuals, and those with low-incomes. Even though these amendments have been included in the annual appropriations process for decades, they are extremely unpopular. In fact, over 60% of voters favor Medicaid coverage for abortion.

In addition to repealing these dangerous amendments, the House bill proposes an increase in Title X funding to $400 million. This funding would allow the nation’s sole federally funded family planning program to reach more people with affordable and accessible contraception, counseling, and other reproductive health services. Similarly, funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program would total $130 million—an increase of $29 million.

In a statement, Population Institute’s President and CEO Kathleen Mogelgaard said of the recently passed spending bill: “We are excited to see the House eliminate these discriminatory bans on abortion. For too long, Hyde has blocked people from accessing basic health care. We are also encouraged to see the House increase funding for Title X and sex education, and to not include funding for non-evidence-based abstinence-only programs. Sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, need to be easily accessible and affordable to everyone. This bill takes us one step closer to making that a reality.”

Population Institute recognizes the tireless work of the communities of color, organizations, and members of Congress who have championed the elimination of these discriminatory abortion bans. These critical voices include All* Above All, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Rep. Dianne DeGette (D-CO-1), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), and grassroots reproductive justice leaders.