Legislative history was recently made in this country.
On July 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill without inclusion of the Hyde and Weldon Amendments. For 45 years, the Hyde Amendment has denied low-income women on Medicaid (one in five women in the United States) and those in the Indian Health Services Plan and Peace Corps subsidized abortion care unless their state is one of the few to cover such care. The Weldon Amendment, passed since 2005, allows health care providers to refuse to cover, provide, pay or refer someone for an abortion based on “religious or moral grounds.”
The Hyde Amendment, which is an annual appropriations rider and bans federal funding for abortions with few exceptions, was introduced by the ultra-Catholic Rep. Henry J. Hyde of Illinois. His religious convictions caused him to be responsible for some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in the United States.
Science shows that abortion restrictions jeopardize women’s health, safety and well-being. Abortion is extremely safe, with major complications occuring in less than one-fourth of 1 percent of the procedure. Furthermore, research shows that carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is significantly more dangerous to a woman’s health. Repealing the Hyde and Weldon Amendments means that more women will have access to safe and affordable abortion care.
Still, there is more work to be done. As the spending package heads to the Senate, it will undoubtedly face major pushback from religious extremists. It is more important than ever that we stand up for science, secular values and women’s health. Please make your voice heard! Send a message to your senators to pass a federal spending bill without the Hyde or Weldon Amendments.
A victory has been secured for ensuring that women’s rights are safeguarded from religious interference — and we need to make certain that it isn’t fleeting.