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Pro Choice Caucus calls on Biden to end Hyde Amendment

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by Kate Scanlon

Washington D.C., Mar 3, 2021 / 04:00 pm MT (CNA).- Congressional Democrats called on President Joe Biden this week to remove pro-life protections from the 2022 federal budget.

The Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, the Democratic Women’s Caucus leaders, and other members of the House and Senate sent a letter to Biden on Tuesday asking him to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, the Weldon Amendment, and the Helms Amendment from the budget.

The Hyde and Helms amendments restrict the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions in the U.S. and abroad, respectively. The Weldon Amendment restricts funding of states that discriminate against health care entities opposed to abortion.

These abortion funding restrictions have been enacted in law for years – decades, in the case of the Hyde and Helms amendments which have been law since the 1970s.

However, in recent years an increasing number of Democrats have pushed for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment – including President Biden, once a supporter of the policy.

Pro-life lawmakers made a request to preserve these amendments in a letter sent earlier this year to congressional leadership.

Republican Study Committee chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) – who led the letter – told CNA Wednesday in a statement that the Hyde Amendment “is supported by the overwhelming majority of voters, was endorsed by President Biden as recently as 2019 and was passed each year in a bipartisan, noncontroversial manner for decades.”

“The modern day Democrat Party has fully embraced anti-life radicalism, but the Republican Study Committee is equally determined to make sure the Hyde Amendment continues to save unborn lives,” Banks said. “Because of our campaign, almost every Republican in Congress has pledged to vote against any bill that would weaken Hyde protections.”

The RSC has listed saving the Hyde Amendment as one of its top priorities for the 117th Congress.

Pro-abortion lawmakers argued in their letter that the ongoing pandemic “yet again showed the long-standing structural racism and inequities in our health care system, with communities of color, particularly those in the Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander communities, and Indigenous people facing high rates of infection and death from COVID-19.”

“We are ready to work with the Biden Administration to undo harmful abortion access policies that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote.

The Hyde Amendment, they argued, blocks subsidized abortion for “people enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare; federal employees and their dependents; Peace Corps Volunteers; Indigenous people; women in federal prisons and immigration detention centers; and residents of the District of Columbia.”

“We are committed to ensuring all people can access reproductive health care, including abortion, no matter how much money they make, where they were born or live, their age, their immigration status, their race, or their sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity,” they wrote.

The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute has estimated that the Hyde Amendment has resulted in fewer abortions annually since it was first enacted in 1976, and has saved the lives of more than 2.4 million people.

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