The History of the Hyde Amendment


Why is there a law that interferes with my ability to build the life or family I want?

In 1973, when abortion became legal across the country, the federal Medicaid program covered abortion as a part of standard medical care. In the first years of legalized abortion, federal Medicaid paid for over one-third of all abortions performed in the U.S. It became clear that Medicaid coverage of abortion is essential for low-income women to build the lives they want.

In 1976, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal Medicaid coverage of abortion. The law went into effect in 1977, and in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Hyde Amendment did not violate the constitutional rights of women on Medicaid.

The intent of the Hyde Amendment is to make it more difficult for low-income women to get the abortions they need. In fact, when Representative Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, introduced the Hyde Amendment to the House of Representatives, he stated that he didn’t want any woman to be able to get an abortion and that by targeting women on Medicaid, he was simply getting started.

"The Hyde Amendment is designed to deprive poor and minority women of the constitutional right to choose abortion." -- Justice Thurgood Marshall, disagreeing with the majority opinion in the 1980 Supreme Court decision upholding the Hyde Amendment

There are 15 states that use their own money to pay for abortion care as part of their Medicaid programs, but there are 35 that do not. And a dozen other laws now prevent federal health care programs from covering abortion for federal employees, women in the military and Peace Corps, disabled women, Native women using Indian Health Services, and federal prisoners. Plus thousands of other federal- and state-level barriers to abortion have popped up in the last 30 years.

Not to mention the new abortion restrictions in the 2010 health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Just getting started, indeed.

Together, we can stop the injustice of the Hyde Amendment. Join the movement today.

Sign the petition to repeal the Hyde Amendment!

See also:

What is the Hyde Amendment?

The Hyde Amendment: lessons for activists

Harris v. McRae

Remembering Rosie Jiménez, honoring her life through our work