A protestor dressed as a character from Hulu TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the bestselling novel by Margaret Atwood, after participating in a rally against one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions on May 19, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama.
Photo: Julie Bennett (Getty Images)

The Trump administration is waging a war on women. For too long, women’s voices have been dismissed when it comes to our reproductive freedom and we must fight back.

Reproductive justice has been one of my top priorities for decades, from when I first began my journey on the Hill as a staffer to now as a Member of Congress and the co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. I was a young congressional staffer when Rep. Henry Hyde (D-Ill.) first introduced the Hyde Amendment in the appropriations bill. I knew then that I would do everything in my capacity to make sure that it was repealed. We must do everything we can to ensure progress and fight efforts to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights.

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Recently, we have seen a wave of new state-level restrictions on abortions. The state abortion laws would take away an individual’s constitutionally protected right under Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, these state restrictions are a part of a concerted and intentional effort to push abortion out of reach and ultimately overturn Roe in the Supreme Court. The overwhelming majority of Americans support a woman’s legal right to end a pregnancy.

Banning abortion will not prevent women from getting abortions, it will simply make it more difficult for them to access safe abortions. I remember the time before Roe v. Wade when back-alley abortions put women’s health and lives in danger. We cannot and will not go back to those days.

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Alabama’s legislators recently introduced a law that would criminalize women receiving abortions and doctors and healthcare providers performing or even discussing the option of abortions. Every woman should have the freedom to make the decision that’s best for her circumstances about when and if she would like to start a family.

Politicians should not be making decisions on behalf of women regarding their bodies. That very personal decision should be between a woman and her doctor. Individuals who are most marginalized in our society would be harmed the most. Healthcare should be available to all and abortion care is healthcare. We also cannot forget that women are not the only people who get abortions; transgender and non-binary Americans are also impacted by these restrictions.

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This is why I have fought for years to overturn the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment, enacted in 1976, blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services and disproportionately affects women of color, immigrants, and lower income folks from being able to make the personal decision between a woman and her doctor. This amendment has been a rider for over four decades and its repeal is long overdue.

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My bicameral bill, the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance, EACH Woman Act, would ensure that abortion access is available to all, regardless of income, zip code, race, and age. This bill would guarantee access and insurance coverage to anyone seeking an abortion.

The EACH Woman Act would restore abortion access to millions of individuals. It would lift the ban on insurance coverage of abortion for women enrolled in federal insurance programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service, U.S. servicewomen and veterans, federal employees, low-income women in Washington, D.C., and others. The bill would also restore access to private insurance coverage across the country by prohibiting state, local, and federal governments from interfering with abortion coverage by private insurance companies.

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We cannot sit back and wait for our rights to continually be stripped away. We must fight to make sure equitable healthcare is available and accessible to all Americans. We must defend women, uplift families, and end the Trump administration’s attacks on our reproductive freedom. The time is now to repeal Hyde.


Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California’s 13th Congressional District and is the Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, and a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations.