It was no big surprise, since it passed the House twice before and is a long-standing priority of Republicans aligned with the anti-abortion movement, but the timing, just three days after the largest protest marches in U.S. history conveyed a message that women’s rights should not be trifled with, was interesting. The House today passed legislation banning the use of federal funds to pay for, or to subsidize via private insurance (as in Obamacare), abortions.
This would represent making into permanent law the so-called Hyde Amendment (named after the late Illinois GOP House Member Henry Hyde), an appropriations rider that has been annually extended since 1976. So it would change nothing immediately, but it would make it a lot harder to repeal the underlying policy, and would also head off accidental repeals of Hyde via some failure in the always iffy appropriations process.
That’s all in the subjunctive mood because the odds are very high this legislation will succumb to a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, just as it did in 2013 and 2015. Once upon a time, a goodly number of Democrats supported the Hyde Amendment, even if they supported a constitutional right to an abortion. But in the House, procedural votes on the permanent Hyde Amendment bill (the roll call on final passage is not yet available) indicated something pretty close to a party-line vote.
So this is just another GOP warning shot that it intends to make abortion illegal, after first making it unaffordable for millions of women who rely on government-provided or -subsidized insurance for their health-care needs. Donald Trump’s speedy reinstitution of the so-called Mexico City Rules banning U.S. funding to any international organizations remotely connected to the exercise of abortion rights was another flare sent up. To the women it affects, whose representatives thronged Washington and other global cities this weekend, the message was clear: “La la la la, we do not hear you.”