Biden budget scraps ‘Hyde Amendment,’ potentially allowing federal funding of abortion

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Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning as the court takes up a major abortion case focusing on whether a Texas law that imposes strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic buildings interferes with the constitutional right of a woman to end her pregnancy, in Washington March 2, 2016.

  • President Joe Biden’s proposed federal budget excludes the Hyde Amendment.
  • That provision, passed in 1977, has prohibited federal spending on abortion.
  • Supporters of reproductive rights hailed the decision.
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Much has been made of what is included in President Joe Biden’s proposed $6 trillion federal budget, but supporters of reproductive rights are praising a key omission: a federal ban on funding abortion.

Known as the Hyde Amendment, that prohibition has been law since 1977. In practice, it means the federal government cannot cover the cost of abortions under Medicaid, the federal insurance program used by some 72 million low-income Americans. The Indian Health Service, which provides care to more than 2.5 million indigenous people, is also barred from providing abortion services.

A GOP effort to make the ban permanent failed the last time Republicans controlled the House. And in 2016, the Democratic Party formally endorsed scrapping the prohibition, named after its original Republican sponsor, Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, called Biden’s move an “historic step in the fight for reproductive freedom.”

“For far too long, the Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes,” she said.

It is far from guaranteed that the Hyde Amendment will be tossed aside in the budget ultimately passed by Congress. But if it is, it would have a significant impact on the health care options of low-income women. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one in five women of reproductive age is covered by Medicaid.

The budget proposal “marks a historic step toward finally ending the coverage bans that have pushed abortion care out of reach and perpetuated inequality for decades,” Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

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Planned Parenthood CEO calls out founder for her ‘association with white supremacist groups and eugenics’

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Los Angeles Councilwoman, Nury Martinez, speaks during a Planned Parenthood rally in Los Angeles, California on June 21, 2017.

  • The CEO of Planned Parenthood on Saturday called out the organization’s founder for her racist past.
  • Founder Margaret Sanger has a history steeped in the advancement of the eugenics movement.
  • She has, for example, publicly supported forced sterilizations on unconsenting adults to rid “unfit” characteristics.
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Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson called out the organization’s founder in a New York Times op-ed, saying she had ties to “white supremacist groups and eugenics.”

Margaret Sanger, founder of the reproductive healthcare nonprofit organization, is known for having devoted her entire life to expanding access to birth control. Since her death, some historians and biographers have been characterizing her as a proponent of the eugenics movement, meant to control populations for “desirable” characteristics while weeding out so-called undesirable ones.

“Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions. We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing her association with white supremacist groups and eugenics as an unfortunate ‘product of her time,'” Johnson wrote in the op-ed.

“Until recently, we have hidden behind the assertion that her beliefs were the norm for people of her class and era, always being sure to name her work alongside that of W.E.B. Dubois and other Black freedom fighters. But the facts are complicated,” she continued.

Sanger once spoke to the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey to hype up birth control, noted Johnson while pointing out examples of her shamed history. She also “endorsed” a Supreme Court decision that led to state-controlled sterilization attempts, Johnson said. This decision allowed the government to sterilize people it deemed “unfit” to have kids, usually without their consent or knowledge.

Germany also established a forced sterilization program in the 1930s, which Sanger supported.

“I admire the courage of a government that takes a stand on sterilization of the unfit and second, my admiration is subject to the interpretation of the word ‘unfit,'” Sanger said in praise of the program. “If by ‘unfit’ is meant the physical or mental defects of a human being, that is an admirable gesture, but if ‘unfit’ refers to races or religions, then that is another matter, which I frankly deplore.”

Johnson’s comments mark the latest in a broad push to distance Planned Parenthood from Sanger’s legacy.

Last year, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, located in Manhattan, announced it would drop Sanger’s name from its building “as a public commitment to reckon with its founder’s harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”

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