By day, this sneaky policy masquerades as an innocuous amendment to a routine spending bill, but by night it’s a horrifying ban on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions domestically. The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but actually a policy “rider” that has been attached to annual appropriations bills every year for the past 40 years.

The Hyde Amendment is one of the five most terrifying policies facing women today. It was first introduced by Representative Henry Hyde, an anti-choice Republican from Illinois. The policy bans federal funding for abortion services, except when continuing the pregnancy will endanger the life of the woman or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Laws like the Hyde Amendment— and the Helms Amendment, which applies to funding abortion services overseas—are unnecessary barriers that women face getting the reproductive health care they need.

We’ve seen again and again that restricting abortion access doesn’t drive down the number of abortions, it just makes them less safe. The Hyde Amendment disproportionately effects low-income women, especially women who rely on Medicaid. When women cannot access safe abortions, sometimes they turn to unlicensed providers or “do-it-yourself” methods. In Texas, women have to travel an average of 150 miles for safe abortion access, prompting some women in South Texas to buy abortion-inducing drugs (misoprostol) on the black market or travel to Mexico, where it is available over-the-counter.

At PAI, we believe political games should never come between a woman and her doctor, whether that’s in the U.S. or abroad. We work every day to remove policies that put politics before women, and work toward a world where every woman can make her own reproductive decisions. Learn more about the most terrifying policies facing women today.

The Hyde Amendment is one of the five scariest policies on Capitol Hill for women worldwide. To meet the other four, check out the full Return to a Nightmare on Capitol Hill site.


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This blog has been resurrected and updated for Return to A Nightmare on Capitol Hill. The original was published by PAI on Oct. 29th, 2014.