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WASHINGTON — Today, in a historic step for reproductive rights and District of Columbia autonomy, the U.S. House passed a FY2022 spending bill without the harmful, long-standing DC Medicaid abortion ban. The ban, also known as the Dornan Amendment, prohibits the District of Columbia from using locally-raised tax dollars to cover abortions for people enrolled in DC Medicaid. While states can decide to use their own dollars to cover abortion services through their Medicaid programs, Washington, DC is not a state and is subject to unique, broad, and often damaging congressional oversight. For decades, members of Congress opposed to sexual and reproductive health care have taken advantage of this power to impose the ban. But soon, that could change.

Statement from Dr. Laura Meyers, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC:

As the oldest and largest provider of reproductive health services in the region, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC has witnessed firsthand how congressional interference in local issues adversely affects our patients’ ability to safely access vital health care services. For those of us including 700,000 people who call DC home, today’s vote represents a hopeful step forward in the fight for equitable access to health care and self determination. While we celebrate today, we also call upon the Senate to both end this ban and place DC on equal footing with the rest of the nation by passing legislation to make DC the 51st state.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Today’s victory is a historic one for the people of DC and for everyone who believes in justice and the right to bodily autonomy. Access to safe, legal abortion should never be determined by your income, ZIP code, or insurance status. We applaud House health care champions for standing up for reproductive freedom by passing a bill that finally respects people living in our nation’s capital. It’s up to the Senate to finish the job — not only by ending this deeply harmful ban, but by granting DC statehood to ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of residents cannot be jeopardized again.

In 2019, more than one in five women of reproductive age in Washington, DC were enrolled in the Medicaid program. The DC Medicaid abortion ban disproportionately impacts people of color, who make up a disproportionate percentage of people covered under Medicaid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 93% of DC residents whose access to abortion is restricted by the abortion coverage ban are Black or Hispanic. Nationwide, Medicaid is the largest payer of reproductive health care in the country. 

The bill that passed today is part of a suite of House appropriations bills that collectively would end all appropriations abortion coverage bans, including the Hyde Amendment, the Weldon Amendment, the ban for people incarcerated in federal prison, and the ban for Peace Corps Volunteers.