As Hyde Amendment Turns 40, Poll Shows Support for Its Repeal

As Hyde Amendment Turns 40, Poll Shows Support for Its Repeal

It’s been 40 years to the day since Congress first passed the so-called Hyde Amendment that bars federal funding for abortion services, and it’s also the first year that any presidential candidate—in this case, Hillary Clinton—has campaigned on a promise to repeal that amendment if elected.

It’s unclear whether Clinton’s pledge will carry much weight with voters. In an election in which women’s votes are expected to be pivotal, abortion has not surfaced as a major campaign issue. Both Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump have sought to appeal to female voters with proposals for paid parental leave and equal pay for women, but neither has spent much time talking about reproductive health care.

But recent polling suggests that women in key battleground states might find Clinton’s Hyde Amendment opposition compelling. Named for former Illinois Senator Henry Hyde, a Republican, the amendment prohibits abortion coverage for women enrolled in federally funded health-care plans such as Medicaid, which serves low-income families; Tri-Care, which serves military families; and the government health-care plan that covers federal employees.

The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates for All Above All, a coalition of organizations working to end insurance coverage bans on abortion. Pollsters focused on the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The poll targeted 1,155 registered voters and included larger-than-average samples of both young voters age 18 to 34, and of African Americans and Hispanics.

A full 76 percent voters agreed with the statement, “However we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman's health coverage for it just because she's poor.” The voters who agreed included 76 percent of independents, 66 percent of Republicans, and 89 percent of Democrats.

Voters also said they would support a bill that would require Medicaid to cover all pregnancy-related care, including abortion, by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent. The support for the repeal of Hyde is even stronger with millennials, a group Clinton is making a special effort to win over. More than two-thirds of young voters said they support Medicaid coverage for all reproductive health care, including abortion.

“The battleground-state poll findings are consistent with a nationwide poll from 2015,” says Destiny Lopez, co-director of All Above All Action Fund. “Both polls found that a majority of voters support requiring that Medicaid coverage include abortion care.”

The polling data may draw notice from reproductive-rights advocacy groups that are busy registering and turning out voters in a year when Clinton, the first woman to head a major national party’s presidential ticket, has emerged as a strong women’s health advocate.

“Some of our strongest supporters are people of color and young people—a critical voting bloc,” says Lopez. “Secretary Clinton’s position on lifting Hyde [is] completely in sync with voters, and we’ll be using this to energize her base and be sure they turn out on Election Day.”