Just days after millions of people around the nation marched for women’s rights, the House of Representatives passed an amendment on Tuesday preventing the use of taxpayer money for abortions.
Despite Representative Suzan DelBene pleading her case before congress, H.R. 7 will become permanent after the House voted along party lines 238 to 183. The bill prohibits federal agencies from using funds for abortion services except in instances of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.
“This weekend, millions of women marched across the country to send a clear signal to Congress and President Trump: Hear our voices, protect our rights,” DelBene said in her address on the House floor. “Yet here we are, just two days later, voting on the same extremist policies that House leaders have been pushing for years.”
Otherwise known as the Hyde Amendment, H.R. 7 already existed before the House vote and was regularly attached to annual funding bills. The measure approved on Tuesday would make H.R. 7 permanent and effective nationwide.
“Women will not be fooled,” DelBene said. “We know H.R. 7 is another direct attack on our health and our families. It creates sweeping new restrictions on abortion care for women who purchase coverage under the Affordable Care Act with no meaningful exceptions to protect a woman’s health.”
All of Washington state’s six Democratic representatives voted against H.R. 7, while the four Republican representatives from Washington voted in favor of the bill. Representative Dan Newhouse said he voted for the amendment because it protects “American taxpayers from being coerced into funding abortion.”
“This legislation makes it permanent to reaffirm that taxpayers will not pay for the taking of the lives of unborn children,” Newhouse said. “The Hyde Amendment is a critical provision of law.”
H.R. 7 also bans anyone who uses government subsidies or health care exchanges created through Obamacare to cover abortion services. Ramsey Cox, DelBene’s communications director, told PubliCola @ Seattle Met that this causes an additional problem for women.
“[H.R. 7] would create burdensome new regulatory requirements that could lead insurers to drop abortion coverage from plans altogether,” Cox said.
Representative Pramila Jayapal also voiced her disapproval of H.R. 7, and said restricting how women purchase their own insurance to cover abortion services is “reprehensible.”
“This bill creates even more barriers for women of color trying to access quality healthcare at a time when we should be focused on legislating equity, not codifying disparity,” Jayapal said.“It is nothing more than politicians trying to control women’s bodies.”
Senate Republicans, busy with confirming Trump’s cabinet appointments, have not yet scheduled a vote on the abortion measure.
“This bill is an insult to the millions of women who marched this weekend,” DelBene said.