In U.S. politics, the Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions. 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. It 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 introduced in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and represented the first major legislative success by the anti-abortion movement.
Effect on low-income women
Opponents of the amendment, such as the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union, assert that it unfairly targets low-income women, stating 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. As a rider attached to the yearly appropriations bill for Medicaid, it occasioned intense debate in Congress each time that it came 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 woman, provoking an outcry from women's rights advocates. As a result, beginning in 1977 language was added 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.
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. As of 2007, 17 of the 50 states provide such funding, and 13 of these are required by court order to do so.
States that fund abortions
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, 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 an executive order on March 24, 2010 affirming that the Hyde Amendment would extend to the new bill.