Hyde Amendment

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This article is about the abortion-funding amendment. For the unrelated 1997 amendment, see Hyde Amendment (1997).

In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions except if a pregnancy arises from incest or rape.[1] It is not a permanent law, rather it is a "rider" that, in various forms, has been routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976. The Hyde Amendment applies only to funds allocated by the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services and primarily affects Medicaid.

The original Hyde Amendment was passed on September 30, 1976 by the House of Representatives, by a 207-167 vote. It was named for its chief sponsor, Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois. The measure was the first major legislative success by the United States pro-life movement after the striking down of anti-abortion laws following the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. Congress subsequently altered the Hyde Amendment several times. The version in force from 1981 until 1993 prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions “except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.”[2]

On October 22, 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1994.[3] The Act contained a new version of the Hyde Amendment that expanded the category of abortions for which federal funds are available under Medicaid to include cases of rape and incest.[4]

Effect on low-income women[edit]

Opponents of the amendment, such as the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union, assert that it unfairly targets low-income women,[5] because the amendment effectively ended the provision of abortions for low-income women across the United States through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for low-income Americans.[6] As a rider attached to the yearly appropriations bill for Medicaid, it occasions intense debate in Congress each time that it comes up for renewal. The original measure made no exceptions for cases of pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest or that threatened the lives of pregnant women, provoking an outcry from women's rights advocates. As a result, beginning in 1977 the amendment was altered to provide for such circumstances; however, the exact wording has varied from one year to the next, subject to the outcome of Congressional bargaining on the issue.

Because of difficulties raising money to pay for their abortions, poor women who depend on Medicaid tend to have them later in pregnancy, which causes destruction of a further-developed fetus, increases in cost, and higher rates of complications from the procedure.[7]

State actions[edit]

States that fund abortions
  State funds abortions voluntarily
  State funds abortions under court order

The cutoff of federal Medicaid funds prompted some states to provide public funding for abortion services from their own coffers. Over time the number of states doing so has gradually expanded, either through legislation or consequent to judicial rulings mandating equal access to health care for low-income women.[8] As of 2007, 17 of the 50 states provide such funding, and 13 of these are required by court order to do so.

Related laws[edit]

The Hyde Amendment inspired the passage of other similar provisions extending the ban on funding of abortions to a number of other federal health care programs. Consequently, those federal government employees who wish to have abortions must pay for them "out-of-pocket". In addition, abortion services are not provided for U.S. military personnel and their families, Peace Corps volunteers, Indian Health Service clients, or federal prisoners.

The Hyde Amendment should not be confused with the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited US government funds from going to agencies that promote or perform abortions in other countries. It prevented funds to agencies that promoted abortion regardless of whether or not they actually performed them, while the Hyde Amendment has a more limited scope.

The Stupak–Pitts Amendment, an amendment to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, was introduced by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. It prohibits use of Federal funds "to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion" except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother,[9] and was included in the bill as passed by the House of Representatives on November 7, 2009. However, the Senate bill passed by the House on March 21, 2010 did not contain that Hyde Amendment language. As part of an agreement between Rep. Stupak and President Obama to secure Stupak's vote, the President issued Executive Order 13535 on March 24, 2010 affirming that the Hyde Amendment would extend to the new bill.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Hyde Amendment" (PDF). National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. April 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  text and history
  2. ^ See, e.g., Pub.L. No. 101-166, § 204, 103 Stat. 1159, 1177 (1989).
  3. ^ Pub.L. No. 103-112, 107 Stat. 1082 (1993).
  4. ^ Id. § 509, 107 Stat. at 1113 (the 1994 Hyde Amendment).
  5. ^ "Public Funding for Abortion: Medicaid and the Hyde Amendment". National Abortion Federation. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Public Funding for Abortion". American Civil Liberties Union. 21 July 2004. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  7. ^ https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/10/1/gpr100112.html
  8. ^ Francis Roberta W. "Frequently Asked Questions". Equal Rights Amendment. Alice Paul Institute. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  9. ^ November 7, 2009 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD—HOUSE H12921
  10. ^ Hall, Mimi (25 March 2010). "Both sides of abortion issue quick to dismiss order". USA Today.