Politics

H.R. 7 Passed in the House and Here's What That Means

Access to a safe abortion for many U.S. women could become much harder to obtain after the passing of a recent bill by the House of Representatives. 

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017​, also called HR 7, which was passed Tuesday, will aim to prevent federal funding for abortions. But there may still be a chance to take action to ensure this legislation doesn't become law. 

HR 7 passed the House by 238-183, with three democrats voting in favor of the bill and should it pass in the Senate then it would make the Hyde Amendment permanent. This means abortion wouldn't be covered by Medicaid, even with the recommendation of a doctor. The Hyde Amendment was enacted in 1976 and "it prohibits both the direct use of federal funds for abortion services and federal subsidies for plans that include abortion coverage, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger."

Hyde Amendment

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released an official statement Tuesday about the passage of HR 7:

"We are a pro-life Congress. Today we renewed our commitment to the Hyde Amendment with the passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I want to thank Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for his tireless commitment to this cause. This legislation protects the conscience of American taxpayers by ensuring that not a single dollar of their hard-earned money goes to fund abortions. As hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to Washington for the March for Life, we must never forget that defending all of our people — especially the defenseless — must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation."

The response from Democrats on the implications of the bill were swift. 

Reps. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) were some of the Democratic lawmakers who proclaimed the bill an "attack" and "threat" on women's health care.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was clear about his decision regarding HR 7 in a tweet which has been retweeted more than 2,000 times. 

Who would HR 7 hit the hardest?

Many critics are pointing out that the bill would hurt low-income and minority women the most with significant numbers of women of color on Medicaid.

"In fact, 30 percent of black women and 24 percent of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 14 percent of white women," according to Planned Parenthood's site.

"The Hyde Amendment has always impacted low-income women the most," according to Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones. "It makes it impossible to use Medicaid funding for almost all abortions."

Planned Parenthood Keep Abortion Legal

Approximately 15.6 million of women have Medicaid coverage, according to statistics on women's health insurance put forward by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in October. It has also been noted by critics of anti-abortion policies that outlawing abortion doesn't prevent abortion, it just prevents safe abortion.

Here's what you can do: 

Let your representatives know you want them to fight it. The Senate Republicans haven't scheduled a vote on the bill, citing a focus on confirming President Donald Trump's cabinet appointments, CNN reports.

Contact your Senators via phone or email to voice concerns on HR 7.