Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on Impacts on Women Denied an Abortion Because of an Inability to Pay

2020-12-08 09:26

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the impacts on women who are denied an abortion because of an inability to pay​:

I thank Chair DeLauro for calling this important hearing, and recognize my good friend, Ranking Member Tom Cole, for his work and dedication to this subcommittee.

It is bittersweet that this will be my last hearing in Congress.  Early in my career I had the privilege of chairing the Pro Choice Caucus, back when it was bipartisan.  I’ve been fighting for reproductive rights and combating the Hyde amendment for decades. 

In fact, my staff recently came across a letter from 1994, to then-President Clinton, signed by my sisters on this subcommittee, Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Nancy Pelosi, and myself, urging him to submit a budget “completely unencumbered by restrictive Medicaid abortion language.”  That letter could be written today. 

Sadly, that’s because the Hyde amendment and other restrictions on access to reproductive health care continue to attack the dignity of low-income Americans.  The Hyde amendment has created two sets of rules – one for those with resources, and one for those without.  After more than 40 years, it continues to impose judgement and bully low-income women, with a disproportionate impact on women of color.

In this subcommittee we have debated the issue of reproductive rights, at length.  We could all probably recite the speeches our friends on both sides of the aisle make at markups. 

But more often than not, we talk past each other.  We don’t talk about what federal policies mean for a woman sitting in a doctor’s office, in fear of the risks to her own health or financial security.  We don’t talk enough about how to help her.  The truth is, that woman has been discriminated against by the laws of her country, just because of her income.  That this continues to happen in 2020 is a disgrace. 

Regardless of what we feel about the issue of abortion, it is well past time that we, as members of this great committee, discuss the harmful legacy of the Hyde amendment.  We should listen to the experts and understand the harms and real-life consequences imposed by this rider.

It is my fervent wish that the next Congress will correct this historical inequity in women’s health care and remove Hyde once and for all.  It deserves to be in the dustbin of history, with other policies that were designed to limit the rights of the powerless.  I will be cheering you on.

Thank you.

116th Congress