And so the rollback of reproductive rights continues. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 7, a piece of anti-choice legislation aimed at making it harder for women to access affordable abortions. As it heads to the Senate, here's what you should know about H.R. 7 and its impact on women.
The bill, which is officially called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act," passed by a vote of 238-183. In short, it will make the Hyde Amendment, which says that taxpayer money cannot be used to fund abortions, into permanent law. As of now, the Hyde Amendment has to be voted on every year by Congress, so even though Congress has always passed it since it was introduced in 1976, there was also always an opportunity to get rid of it without having to pass a whole new law. With H.R. 7, that would no longer be the case.
When government funds cannot be used to cover abortion, women on public programs like Medicaid do not receive any abortion coverage. And since Medicaid is a program for low-income people, this restriction hits exactly the same people who have the most trouble paying for an abortion out-of-pocket. Because of the Hyde Amendment, millions of low-income women, disproportionately women of color, are effectively denied access to abortion because they simply cannot afford it. (17 states do currently provide state Medicaid funds for abortion coverage.)
Furthermore, under H.R. 7, women who obtain private insurance plans through, say, the Affordable Care Act's state exchanges wouldn't be able to get government subsidies for plans that cover abortion, meaning that those plans would be much less affordable, meaning that people would be less likely to choose them, meaning that insurance companies would likely stop offering them, meaning that H.R. 7 could effectively stop private insurance on those exchanges from covering abortions too.
This is the second big blow to reproductive rights in as many days under the new administration. On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City policy, which bars foreign health providers who so much as mention abortion as a means of family planning from receiving any American foreign aid.
That, too, is a moot point, as the Helms Amendment (essentially the Hyde Amendment's twin) prohibits federal funds from being put toward any abortion services overseas, minus instances of rape or incest, or the endangerment of a woman's life. Of course, the GOP and Trump at the moment seem not to care about this and are pushing forward regardless.
It's a clear signal from many Republicans in government that they intend to disregard the protest of millions of women across the country, who just days ago came together to rally for women's rights, including reproductive choice.