Freshman lawmakers Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., appeared in a video on Monday with former Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to push for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal money from funding abortions.
In the video, which was published on The Root to mark the amendment's 43rd anniversary, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez enthusiastically back the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act), a bill authored by Lee that would repeal Hyde. The bill has racked up 169 co-sponsors since its introduction in March.
The Hyde Amendment was "an egregious policy rider," Pressley said, "which does not allow Medicaid to include abortion coverage."
Hyde, which bans any federal money from paying for abortion except in cases of rape and incest, was introduced in 1976 by Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde. Democrats and Republicans have voted to keep the amendment in effect through the years, notably this June when the House passed a spending bill to which a Hyde Amendment reauthorization was attached.
Some Democrats and most Republicans disagree with Lee, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez.
"The Hyde Amendment was historically a great compromise between pro-choicers and pro-lifers," conservative commentator Meghan McCain said on "The View" in June, soon after Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden reneged on his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment. "I feel slighted as someone who was open to him being president, and I think that it’s a dangerous lane for him to take to go super far left."
Lee, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez say the Hyde Amendment particularly harms poor and minority communities.
"I was a staffer in 1977 to the late, great feminist congressman Ron Dellums," Lee said in the video for The Root. "I knew exactly what this would do, and that would be to deny low-income women and women of color access to the full range of reproductive rights, including abortion."
Later in the video, Ocasio-Cortez said the trio's effort to repeal Hyde was a defense of Roe v. Wade and women's right to abortion.
"Our access to reproductive justice and reproductive freedom should not be income-based," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Repealing Hyde means that low-income women, women who are incarcerated, nonbinary people who need access to an abortion can get it, not because they are wealthy but because they are an American."