A group of Democratic lawmakers are pushing for passage of a bill that would allow federal funding of abortions.
“This is a question of equal access to reproductive freedom and healthcare, and as long as you are denying lower-income women that access then that right is not real to a major part of the population,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told PJ Media after a press conference about the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance or EACH Woman Act.
The lawmakers in attendance called for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment, which currently blocks taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions excluding cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a sponsor of the bill, emphasized the importance of helping members of Congress who do not have abortion coverage under their medical plans.
Schakowsky said the Hyde Amendment, named after former Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), discriminates against women.
“It is counter to the spirit of the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed women the choice and says that poor women, simply if they can’t afford it, too bad, no federal dollars,” she told PJ Media.
“It also means members of Congress who don’t have abortion coverage – we do have young women in the Congress, women in the military, women who get healthcare from Indian services – so there are so many millions of women now who really don’t get the right that was offered to women in 1973,” she added.
Van Hollen, one of 64 co-sponsors of the bill so far, said the Hyde Amendment hurts the poor in particular.
“Under our Medicaid law there is a provision that prohibits any of the funds from being spent to provide reproductive choice abortion decisions to poor women, so as my colleagues just said that means a banker is given greater freedom and opportunity to make healthcare decisions than a housemaid,” he said.
Schakowsky was asked if taxpayers who morally disagree with abortion should have to pay for such services.
“There are many people who object to taxes. There are people who object to paying for war. This is a united country and many people end up paying for a particular policy that they really don’t support because there is a greater good in the country,” she responded.
Abortions-rights activists from various organizations attended the unveiling of the bill, including Planned Parenthood, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Schakowsky said the power of the people would help get the bill passed despite the current Republican majority.
“We’ve seen things change so much. We saw the arc of justice bend with the Supreme Court deciding that marriage equality is the law of the land and I am a believer that the power of the people can bend that arc,” she said.