This guide explores the political issues surrounding the Hyde Amendment to the Medicaid Act, including the amendment's history and implications, using a combination of:
The Hyde Amendment of the Medicaid Act prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment to the life of the mother. The legislation surrounding the Hyde Amendment generally only places restrictions on the use of funds by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a federal agency, with the main repercussions affecting Medicaid. Essentially then, the decision to fund and perform abortions is left to the states since the Amendment only limits federal law and employees.
The Hyde Amendment was named after its chief sponsor, Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, when it was originally passed on September 30, 1976 with a vote of 207-167 in the House of Representatives. This was seen as a major victory for the pro-life movement, especially following the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade a few years prior in 1973. The Hyde Amendment has been altered several times since its inception with specific language from 1981 to 1993 that stated federal funds had to be prohibited "except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term."
Currently, there are more proposed changes to the Hyde Amendment. In January 2017, H.R. 7, also known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, was introduced. H.R.7, like its predecessor, was introduced by a Republican Congressman, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey. H.R. 7 would permanently settle the political debate on the Hyde Amendment, proposing that the prohibition on federal funding for abortions be permanent. Additionally, H.R.7 suggests adding in language to prohibit qualified health plans from including coverage for abortions as it pertains to the healthcare marketplace set up by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during the Obama Administration, which is subject to change under the Trump Administration depending on the status of the American Health Care Act of 2017.
Before H.R.7, the most recent amendment to the Hyde Amendment was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993; the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act expanded the category of abortions for which federal funds would be available under Medicaid to include rape and incest cases. The Democratic Party platform first called to completely repeal the Hyde Amendment during the 2016 presidential election.