The ransom demand never changes: Women must give up essential rights and access to care. The hostage? That can be just about anything. Politicians have inserted anti-abortion restrictions into so many would-be inoffensive bills that we call it “Hyde and Sneak” — the relentless effort by out-of-touch politicians to push their anti-women’s health agenda into any bill, no matter the issue. It’s dangerous, and it has to stop now.
The Bills that Politicians Are Using to Restrict Abortion Access
Anti-women’s health politicians are so single-minded, they’re willing to block critical legislation unless they can extract a price from women. That’s how the Hyde Amendment (which keeps women already struggling to make ends meet from accessing safe and legal abortion) got attached to so much legislation that has nothing to do with health care.
Here’s just a quick run-down of just three of the bills that have been suddenly saddled with anti-abortion restrictions:
An Education Bill
Anti-women's health politicians took a major education bill and attached language that prohibits school-based health centers from providing information about abortion to pregnant high school students. This provision ties the hands of health care professionals in schools, and denies teens access to important and basic information about their health care options.
Legislation that Decides How Much Medicare Doctors Get Paid
The health care funding package includes a fix to a problem that lawmakers have been trying to figure out for 17 years — how to pay doctors through Medicare. But tacked onto this commonsense “doc fix” (also called the sustainable growth rate or “SGR”) is something sneaky: The proposal unnecessarily includes barriers to abortion coverage. What’s more, these barriers hurt low-income women most — they would block a woman whose doctor recommends an abortion for serious health reasons from getting the care she needs.
A Bipartisan Bill to Protect Victims of Human Trafficking
You’d think that everyone could agree on the fact that human trafficking is bad and we need to stop it. But even an otherwise bipartisan bill to protect human trafficking victims got twisted to deny those same victims access to safe and legal abortion. Thanks to the help of 26,891 supporters, we temporarily stopped the Senate from passing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act with a harmful anti-abortion measure. But the senators behind this attack have said they won't back down.
The Right to Discriminate
Starting to see a pattern here? When lawmakers work to address a pressing issue, no matter what the subject, out-of-touch politicians shamelessly sneak in attacks on women's health. It's how politicians literally added “against abortion” into an amendment that would already discriminate against LGBT people.
20 Week Ban
Even the way some politicians handled the federal 20-week abortion ban was super- sneaky: On the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Republican leaders in Congress initially planned to pass an unconstitutional bill banning abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy — but they couldn’t get party consensus on it. With a sudden move in the middle of the night, leadership put forth another bill that undermines a woman’s ability to make personal health care decisions. This bill would result in an unprecedented new restriction on women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market.
Switching out bills late the night before a scheduled vote is something that rarely happens. But sneaky attacks on women’s health are happening more and more. And while Congress should be expanding access to health care, instead politicians are fixating on abortion restrictions and ignoring women's health. Just last week, the House and Senate passed budget resolutions that make draconian funding cuts on the backs of women and families already struggling to make ends meet. Both budgets irresponsibly seek to repeal Obamacare and impose deep cuts to Medicaid.
The Bigger Picture
These aren’t isolated incidents. They are part of an organized, orchestrated effort to block access to abortion for the most vulnerable women in this country. In fact, we’ve now seen nearly 30 attempts by Congress to interfere with abortion access in less than three months.
For 40 years, the majority of Americans have been saying that abortion should be safe and legal. And yet politicians keep using tricky tactics to sneak anti-abortion language into bills that should have nothing to do with it in the first place.
One of the many unfortunate outcomes is the politicization of issues that used to not be partisan: issues like educating children, protecting victims, and paying doctors. Abortion isn't a partisan issue for the majority of Americans — but it is in Congress.
Our government simply can’t function if the cost of passing legislation, no matter how important, no matter what the issue, is women’s health and rights. We can’t allow Congress and our nation’s laws to be repeatedly held hostage by politicians demanding a ransom from women. Enough is enough.
Right now, Congress is in recess and lawmakers are back in their home districts. We want to send them 50,000 signatures right now so they get the message loud and clear — will you add yours?
Before Congress heads back to Washington, make sure they hear from you: Tell Congress to end this dangerous game of Hyde and Sneak, and stop using women’s health and rights as a political bargaining chip.
We’re going to keep the pressure on lawmakers to protect women’s health and rights. Join us in the fight!