The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives showed its strength yesterday during a meeting with reproductive rights advocates on Capitol Hill. The Pro-Choice Caucus, a coalition of representatives who work to advance women’s reproductive rights, announced its legislative priorities for the next session of Congress, promising to do all it can to reverse a number of the federal government’s anti-choice initiatives.
“We’re going to use this majority to defend women, to uplift families and to end the Trump administration’s unconstitutional attacks on reproductive health care,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who is a co-chair of the caucus, according to Rewire.News.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said in opening remarks that the caucus would “pledge to use every legislative and oversight tool in our power to investigate the Trump administration’s attacks on women and show the American people that instead of attacking women and families, we will invest [in] and expand health care.”
Chu went on to chart out some of the topics the Pro-Choice Caucus hoped to take on in the new legislative session and noted the Trump administration’s many attacks on reproductive health and rights. She condemned the proposed domestic gag rule, which would block federal family planning funds from organizations that provide abortion services in the same location as their Title X-funded services.
One piece of legislation that the caucus plans to introduce is the EACH Woman Act, which would guarantee access—and insurance coverage—to any woman seeking to have an abortion. Lee, a co-sponsor of the bill that was first introduced in 2015, called it the “the boldest pro-choice legislation in history.” If passed, the law would end the Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in 1974 and which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services. Hyde disproportionately targets women of color, immigrants and lower-income earning women.
Since the November 2018 midterm elections, an unprecedented number of women—121—are in the House of Representatives. As Rewire.News reports, many of these women, including Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), openly reject Hyde. Though the EACH Woman Act could likely pass the House, it would likely face defeat by the Republican-majority Senate or veto by President Donald Trump.
Another piece of legislation that the Pro-Choice Caucus plans to introduce is the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act to reverse the global gag rule, which prevents foreign organizations receiving United States international family planning funds from providing information about or access to abortions for their patients.
Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said at the meeting, “It’s hard to believe that we have arrived at a terrible place where the administration is trying to replicate this abhorrent policy at home,” in reference to the proposed domestic gag rule.
Reproductive rights advocates were in attendance at yesterday’s event. They included Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen and Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
We’re here at the US Capitol for the kickoff of the Pro-Choice caucus in the 116th Congress! pic.twitter.com/65Bvtw0HNh— NAPAWF (@NAPAWF) January 15, 2019
“We will not rest until all women, no matter income, background, or zip code have access to all forms of birth control.” Thank you, @RepJudyChu, for so proudly standing for the basic right to reproductive health care in the halls of Congress. pic.twitter.com/Ic9gNPl5UM— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) January 16, 2019
We have the largest pro-choice majority in congressional history – and we will be BOLD in our work to defend women’s reproductive rights. With more women than ever in Congress, this is a new era for the @ProChoiceCaucus! pic.twitter.com/38s0gH98vh— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 15, 2019