News Abortion

Seattle City Council: Remove Bans on Federal Abortion Funding (Updated)

Nina Liss-Schultz

The City of Seattle, Washington, last week introduced a resolution calling for the full repeal of all federal bans on public funding for abortion.

UPDATE, September 9, 12:20 p.m.: On Monday, September 8, the Seattle City Council passed the resolution calling for an end to all federal bans on public coverage of abortion. 

The City of Seattle, Washington, last week introduced a resolution calling for the full repeal of all federal bans on public funding for abortion. The resolution also supports the improvement of access to both public and private coverage of reproductive care, including abortion services.

In 1976, the U.S. government passed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, except in certain cases. The Hyde amendment has guided what kind of abortion services are covered by publicly funded health insurance, such as Medicaid, and has limited abortion coverage to rape, incest, and life endangerment.

Though there are variations on the exceptions in which abortion is covered, many states have left out most abortion coverage from publicly funded programs since the late 1970s.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 32 states and the District of Columbia only fund abortion in exceptional cases. Seventeen other states cover abortion in more cases than specified by the Hyde Amendment, though they use state funding to do so.

President Obama in March 2010 issued an executive order clarifying that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would abide by the Hyde Amendment by limiting the federal funding of abortion coverage through the insurance marketplaces.

The ACA also explicitly prohibits abortion coverage from being required as part of the “essential health benefits” set up by the federal health reform law.

Because it specifically targets government funds, the Hyde Amendment disproportionately affects low-income women who can’t afford private insurance. Women who already struggle to access quality health care are often forced to pay out of pocket for abortion services.

Abortion can cost anywhere between $300 to $3,000, depending on the type of procedure and the provider. According to a 2009 Guttmacher Institute study, one in four women who are eligible for Medicaid abortion coverage instead give birth when funding is unavailable.

Washington is one of a dozen or so states that does not have policies on the books limiting abortion coverage in Medicaid and private insurance.

The resolution proposed by the Seattle City Council affirms that abortion is part of comprehensive reproductive care, and recognizes that bans on federal funds toward abortion discriminate primarily against low-income women and women of color. It reads:

The City of Seattle recognizes that every woman needs access to a range of safe, affordable and comprehensive reproductive health care, regardless of income, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age, and that insurance coverage is critical to accessing health care.

The Seattle City Council will vote on the resolution by Monday, September 8.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that the resolution was introduced this week. In fact, it was introduced on September 2. We regret the error.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”

News Politics

Democratic Party Platform: Repeal Bans on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde Amendment.”

Democrats voted on their party platform Monday, codifying for the first time the party’s stated commitment to repealing restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

The platform includes a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations ban on federal funding for abortion reimplemented on a yearly basis. The amendment disproportionately affects people of color and those with low incomes.

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” states the Democratic Party platform. “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

The platform also calls for an end to the Helms Amendment, which ensures that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Though Helms allows funding for abortion care in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, the Obama administration has failed to enforce those guarantees.

Despite the platform’s opposition to the restrictions on abortion care funding, it makes no mention of how the anti-choice measures would be rolled back.

Both presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have promised to address Hyde and Helms if elected. Clinton has said she would “fix the Helms Amendment.”

Speaking at the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum in January, Clinton said that the Hyde Amendment “is just hard to justify because … certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.” In 2008, Clinton’s campaign told Rewire that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in an interview with the Weekly Standard that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

“The Hyde amendment and Helms amendment have prevented countless low-income women from being able to make their own decisions about health, family, and future,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement, addressing an early draft of the platform. “These amendments have ensured that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion is a right that’s easier to access if you have the resources to afford it. That’s wrong and stands directly in contrast with the Democratic Party’s principles, and we applaud the Party for reaffirming this in the platform.”