Jan 26, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House Dems introduce bill to allow federal funding to cover abortion

Illustration of hand holding a red health plus.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

House Democrats today are set to introduce a largely symbolic bill that would lift longstanding government restrictions on the use of federal funds to cover abortions.

The big picture: Abortion rights advocates have argued that such funding is needed to assure access to the procedure, particularly for low income people and people of color. But its prospects are practically nil in the Republican-controlled House.

  • If enacted, "low income people, who are primarily Black and brown, would have the same access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus and and lead lawmaker introducing the bill, told Axios.

By the numbers: An in-clinic abortion can cost up to $800 in the first trimester, and when looking at later abortions, the cost ranges from $715 earlier in the second trimester to up to $2,000 in the second trimester, according to data from Planned Parenthood.

Details: The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act would repeal the so-called Hyde Amendment and guarantee that people enrolled in federal health insurance plans receive coverage of abortion services.

  • The Hyde Amendment dates to the 1970s and prohibits the use of federal funds from being used in Medicaid and other federally administered health programs for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or in cases where the pregnant person's life is in danger.
    • The Hyde Amendment was renewed multiple times by Congress, even when Democrats controlled the House.
  • The EACH Act would also prohibit the federal government from restricting or prohibiting of abortion services by private health plans.

What's also happening: House Republicans, meanwhile, have introduced at least 11 anti-abortion bills since their party gained control of the chamber, Axios' Victoria Knight reports.

  • This includes a bill from Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) that would prohibit the use of government funds to cover abortions or for health coverage that includes abortion.
  • "In their first few days in the majority, House Republicans have wasted no time in pushing their dangerous anti-abortion and anti-woman agenda, advancing harmful legislation that spreads misinformation and further limits access to abortion care," Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who is also introducing the bill, said in a statement to Axios.

What's next: Lee, who plans to run for the Senate in 2024, told Axios she intends to keep re-introducing the EACH Act.

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