by David Crary, CNSnews:
The law that bans federal funding for Medicaid coverage of most abortions is now in the spotlight some 40 years after it was passed by Congress, emerging as an election issue in the national debate over the procedure.
First approved in 1976, and renewed annually ever since as part of the congressional appropriations process, the Hyde Amendment makes exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy endangers a women’s life.
For most of its existence, the amendment had broad bipartisan support in Congress, but that’s now changed. At their recent national convention, Democrats for the first time included in their platform a call for the Hyde Amendment to be repealed. Their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is embracing that stance, even as it risks creating friction within the party.
The amendment’s supporters depict it as essential in ensuring that taxpayers who oppose abortion do not have to subsidize it. Critics assail the policy as discriminatory, making it difficult for low-income women to obtain a legal medical procedure that’s readily accessible for more affluent women.
“Access to abortion shouldn’t depend on your zip code, and it shouldn’t depend on your pocketbook,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
For now, repeal of the Hyde Amendment is a long-term goal, not an imminent likelihood. Even if Clinton wins, Democrats would need improbably large gains in Congress to have a chance of ending the policy during her first term.
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