The Freedom From Religion Foundation applauds House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for providing us with a simple lesson in how to keep personal religious beliefs out of governmental duties.
At her weekly press conference, Pelosi celebrated the removal of the Hyde Amendment from a draft spending bill that the House Appropriations Committee recently approved. Pelosi emphasized that even though she is “a devout Catholic,” it is “not up to me to dictate what other people should do, and [funding of reproductive health care] is an issue of fairness and justice for poorer women in our country.”
First introduced in 1976 by the ultra-Catholic Rep. Henry J. Hyde, the Hyde Amendment bars federal funding for abortion care. Low-income women on Medicaid (one in five women in the United States), those in the Indian Health Service Plan or the Peace Corps are essentially denied abortion care, unless their state of residence uses its own funds to cover such care. (Only 16 states currently provide such coverage.) And since the procedure can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000, the Hyde Amendment exacerbates health care and economic inequalities for low-income women.
Pelosi’s comments are a reminder that the United States was founded in large part on the idea of freedom of religion, which is only possible with a government that is free from religion. The Freedom From Religion Foundation hopes that other lawmakers similarly demonstrate an understanding about their elected positions not giving them a license to impose their religious beliefs on others.