Congressional Republicans Attempt To Limit Access To Abortion In The Mainland Colony

Because, after exposing thousands of D.C. residents to AIDS by opposing needle exchange, why stop there? (boldface mine)

When the House of Representatives drafts its annual Financial Services Bill, it’s become a not-so-beloved tradition to include measures that limit the District of Columbia’s ability to self-govern. And Capitol Hill remains steadfast in preventing D.C. from funding abortions for low-income women, made possible because of the District’s lack of statehood.

It all begins with the Hyde Amendment, a budget rider that has been added to appropriations bills every year since 1976. It prevents the use of federal funds like Medicaid for abortions, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Exactly 40 years after the amendment first popped up, there’s a movement underway to get rid of it once and for all…

The rider’s author, Henry Hyde, made no secret of who would be impacted by it. “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman,” he said in 1977 in Congress. “Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.”

And that’s generally how it has panned out. “The burden of Hyde generally falls hardest on women who are struggling already economically and already have barriers to accessing good quality healthcare,” says Georgeanne Usova, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “I can’t think of another healthcare service that is excluded in this way.”

Hyde doesn’t just impact people on Medicaid; federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, federally incarcerated women and women in immigration detention centers, military personnel, and Native Americans are also affected by the ban.

“The fact that it impacts folks who then have to staff members [of Congress] who are annually approving this is the ultimate irony,” says Destiny Lopez, the co-director of All Above All, a grassroots advocacy group pushing for the bill’s passage. “In some instances, that means that they’re essentially voting to ban coverage for their own employees.”

While Hyde particularly affects Washingtonians because so many residents hold jobs in the federal government, Congress also found a special way to further tread on D.C. by including what’s often called the Dornan Amendment as a rider. Starting in 1989, it uses similar language as the Hyde Amendment to prevent D.C. from using its own, locally raised funds for funding abortion.

“D.C. women are hit hardest by this, compared to states, because Congress does have control over the D.C. budget that they don’t have in the states,” says Usova of the ACLU. While D.C. bucks the national trend of enacting barriers to abortion access, and providers see patients from as far away as Texas and Colorado, the city can’t help many of its own residents.

The D.C. Abortion Fund has stepped in, helping low-income women pay for abortions. The non-profit estimates that the Dornan Amendment affects around 60,000 Washingtonians, which it calculates by looking at the number of women of reproductive age that qualify under Medicaid.

If you don’t think there are differences between Democrats and Republicans, think again:

“This is a thorn in our side,” says D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “We try to get Dornan removed every single appropriations cycle. Most of my time in Congress I’ve been in the minority. Every time I’ve been in the majority, I’ve gotten something done on this.”

During President Barack Obama’s first two years in office, when Democrats had control over the House and Senate, the Dornan amendment was not included in the appropriations bills.

Statehood is on the ballot this November for D.C. residents, though it will require Congressional approval to become the 51st star on the flag. And the fact that hopes for funding local abortions require statehood is exactly why Republicans Speaker of the House Paul Ryan say the District shouldn’t even control its own budget. “The D.C. government wants to use revenues to fund abortions in the District,” Ryan said in a statement in May. “House Republicans will not stand for that

Because, you know, the abortions are performed outside on the mall so all the kids can see.

Statehood now–and please vote Democratic.

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