President Biden’s full budget for fiscal year 2024 has officially been released, and once again, the White House has chosen to ignore the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funds from being used for abortion care outside of exceptions of rape, incest, or cases in which pregnancy is determined to endanger the life of the pregnant person (though it is important to note that exceptions are extremely difficult to obtain).
“In a post-Dobbs landscape, it has never been more important for the President and all of our elected officials to take bold action on this issue,” said Morgan Hopkins, president of All Above All. “And the American people are paying closer attention than maybe ever before to abortion and abortion access. We know that the majority of the public believe Medicaid should cover abortion care, and so his budget without Hyde is in line with the majority of people.”
Hopkins is correct. According to recent data from the Public Religion Research Institute, 64 percent—that’s just under two-thirds—of Americans support abortion rights in all or most cases. That’s up from 55 percent in 2010. There is, of course, a gap between parties—roughly 87 percent of Democrats support abortion rights, compared with 37 percent of Republicans. Additionally, new polling from Navigator Research shows that 3 in 5 Americans support keeping medication abortion legal, a significant statistic, given that most abortions in the United States are medication abortions and it is currently the most accessible method.
Still, the budget does include other abortion funding bans, such as the Helms amendment, which prohibits the use of foreign assistance to pay for abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortion care. “President Biden missed an important opportunity to bring abortion justice to his first federal budget since the end of Roe by not eliminating all abortion coverage bans,” Hopkins says. “We applaud the exclusion of the Hyde Amendment and ban for D.C. residents, but the fact that other coverage bans that impact federal employees, people in federal detention, and Peace Corps volunteers still remain is simply unconscionable. These policies deny people the freedom to make their own decisions, and they all have to go.”
The Hyde Amendment, for its part, has long been a barrier to access. It was the first kind of abortion ban after Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right, and it targeted poor women. “I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman,” Henry Hyde, the statutory provision’s namesake, famously said. “Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.”
Because of the Hyde Amendment, Hopkins said, many people were living in a post-Roe world long before the Dobbs ruling over the summer. “Things like the Hyde Amendment have chipped away at communities of color and people working really hard to make ends meet who might be enrolled in Medicaid were not always able to access abortion care pre-Dobbs,” she said. “I think that sort of connection is becoming more and more clear to both the American public and our elected officials.”
The budget, in its current state, is far from final. The president’s budget request will now go before Congress, where it will be debated and dissected at length. The Hyde Amendment, so far, has always been included in the official budget, as it is often used as a bargaining chip in negotiations between the parties.