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Repeal the Hyde Amendment

In January 1973, the U.S. Supreme court recognized that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion in the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Ever since, many measures have been taken to limit access to abortion procedures, diminishing the right to choose. One of the most notable and longstanding of these is the Hyde Amendment, which was first passed in 1976 and has been renewed every year since.

The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal money for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger for all federally administered health care plans such as Medicaid, TRICARE, and Indian Health Service. Many people that are have insurance through these plans, particularly Medicaid, are of low income. Thus, the Hyde Amendment largely and disproportionately impacts a low-income women’s right to choose. It is reprehensible that women are denied their right to choose and serve as their own moral agent for their reproductive health simply because they are insured by a federal health care plan. 

The Equal Access to Abortion in Health Insurance or EACH Woman Act  (H.R. 771) was introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2017 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13). This bill seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment. It would guarantee that every person who receives care or insurance through a federal plan or program will have coverage for abortion.

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  • Women's Issues
  • Jewish Values: Our tradition teaches that all life is sacred. Although an unborn fetus is precious and to be protected, Judaism views the life and well-being of the mother as paramount, placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life.

    We learn from Mishnah Ohalot 7:6 that a woman is forbidden from sacrificing her own life for that of the fetus, and if her life is threatened, the text permits her no other option but abortion. In addition, if the mental health, sanity, or self-esteem of the woman (i.e. in the case of rape or incest) is at risk due to the pregnancy itself, the Mishnah permits the woman to terminate the pregnancy. It is due to the fundamental Jewish belief in the sanctity of life that abortion is viewed as both a moral and correct decision under some circumstances.  

    The 1975 URJ Resolution on Abortion states, “While recognizing the right of religious groups whose beliefs differ from ours to follow the dictates of their faith in this matter, we vigorously oppose the attempts to legislate the particular beliefs of those groups into the law that governs us all. This is a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

    Take Action:

    Urge your Representative to support the EACH Woman Act (H.R. 771), which would end bans on abortion coverage, restoring respect for each woman’s moral agency, ensuring fair treatment no matter her income, and protecting her health and safety.

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Maya Weinstein at 202-387-2800.