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2016 Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum

You can't Hyde

Hillary Clinton doesn’t mince words on her plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment

When asked if she would support congressional efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment, Hillary Clinton wasted no time pondering her answer: “Yes.”

“And actually I have for a very long time,” the Democratic frontrunner added at Monday night’s Iowa Brown and Black Forum.

The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. The law is a major impediment to safe-abortion access for low-income women because that’s precisely what it was designed to do. “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman,” former Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde, the law’s namesake, said in 1973. “Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.”

Restrictions like Hyde have had devastating consequences for women. According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, one in four women are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term because they can’t afford a medical intervention without insurance.

But last year, House Democrats introduced a bill—The EACH Woman Act—to challenge Hyde and require abortion coverage under all healthcare and insurance provided by the federal government. The measure would also prohibit states from placing restrictions on private health insurance companies looking to offer a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion.

“It’s just hard to justify,” Clinton said. “Because if we have a right, and I think people have a right to health… but certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton then turned her attention to state-level restrictions that disproportionately impact women of color and low-income women. “But if state governments, if politicians, use their power to try to restrict that right, well off people are still going to have it, you know, we know that, but a lot of poorer women, rural women, isolated far from a place where they can get services, are going to be denied.

“To me,” Clinton continued, “reproductive rights are a fundamental human right.”