For Immediate Release: Monday, October 18, 2021
Contact: [email protected]
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee released its FY’22 spending bills. These historic spending bills increase funding for reproductive health programs, remove numerous harmful anti-choice policies, and uphold reproductive freedom in the United States and around the world.
NARAL Pro-Choice America Chief Campaigns and Advocacy Officer Christian LoBue released the following statement in response:
“We are thrilled to see these important spending bills introduced without anti-choice policies that have blocked access to abortion care for far too long. This victory has been a long time coming and it is the result of steadfast leadership and work by women of color and our reproductive justice partners.
We’re in the midst of an all-out war on our fundamental rights with the future of legal abortion hanging in the balance. This moment of crisis for reproductive freedom calls for bold action and we are grateful to the Senators who are fighting for a world where access to abortion care does not depend on how much you earn or where you live. These bills are a critical step toward a future where everybody has access to the care they need to make the best decisions for their lives, families, and futures.”
For years, anti-choice Congressional lawmakers have added abortion coverage bans as policy riders to federal spending bills. The Senate’s historic Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) bill is free of the Hyde Amendment’s discriminatory ban on coverage of abortion care for those who receive their health insurance through Medicaid for the first time in decades. The bill also excludes the Weldon Amendment, which emboldens a broad variety of healthcare entities—including hospitals, insurance companies, and individual healthcare professionals—to deny care, coverage, or referrals for abortion. In addition, the Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending bill excludes a harmful restriction barring Washington, DC from using its own locally raised funds to provide coverage for abortion care.
The Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill also works to uphold reproductive freedom around the world by moving to permanently end the global gag rule, which denies U.S. global health assistance funds to overseas health centers unless they agree not to use their own private funds for abortion care, counseling, or even to take a public position supporting reproductive freedom.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed historic spending bills that also removed these harmful bans on coverage of abortion care and moved to end the global gag rule. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order rescinding the global gag rule. In May, President Biden released a presidential budget without the Hyde Amendment. When in place, the Hyde Amendment disproportionately harms people who are already marginalized by our healthcare system, including women of color, young people, and transgender and non-binary people.
While these Senate spending bills undoubtedly advance reproductive freedom, we are disappointed that some policies curtailing access to abortion care in the United States and around the world, like certain abortion coverage bans and the Helms Amendment, remain in these bills. It’s critical that the Senate build on the steps taken today and prioritize protecting and expanding access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare—including abortion care—by eliminating restrictions on abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers and people who are incarcerated and restrictions on the use of foreign assistance for abortion care like the Helms Amendment.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, paid family leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.