Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that the single-payer healthcare bill being backed by more than a dozen Senate Democrats would gut federal regulations that prohibit public funding from going toward most abortions.
"Women have been denied their healthcare needs for too long," the Connecticut Democrat said at a press conference introducing the bill, the Medicare for All Act. "Consider the Hyde Amendment history when we pass Medicare for All."
The Hyde Amendment does not allow federal taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, but makes exemptions in the cases of rape, incest or a pregnant woman's health, though some states cover abortions through their Medicaid programs.
During the 2016 presidential race, Democrats called for repeal of the Hyde Amendment, while Republicans have moved to strip federal funding from medical facilities that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.
The bill, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has 16 Democratic or independent co-sponsors, more than a single-payer program has ever had in the Senate. Some of the senators who support the bill are expected to run in the 2020 presidential race, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Planned Parenthood praised the inclusion of abortion coverage in the bill.
"It's a refreshing change to see a healthcare proposal coming out of Congress that explicitly takes women's health into consideration," said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Planned Parenthood applauds Senator Sanders for ensuring that under his healthcare proposal women would have coverage for comprehensive reproductive healthcare services, including abortion, maternity care and preventive health services.'