Freshman members of Congress and others who have been demanding to know the whereabouts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in recent days got their answer on Thursday, as McConnell held a Senate vote not on whether to reopen the government, but on a bill that would restrict abortion rights for low-income women.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (S.109) would have permanently restricted federal funds from going to abortion care, codifying the Hyde Amendment so the Senate doesn’t have to pass it — as it has since 1976 — in annual appropriations bills.The legislation would have also banned abortion care in federally funded medical facilities and barred healthcare plans subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from covering abortions.
The Hyde Amendment already disproportionately affects low-income women, many of whom rely on Medicaid for their healthcare costs. Women’s rights organizations slammed Senate Republicans including McConnell and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) for pushing the vote on a bill that would further harm marginalized women.
“The consideration of S.109 is politics at its worst. Instead of jeopardizing women’s health, it’s time for Congress to lift the restrictions on abortion coverage so women can make decisions based on their individual circumstances and health care needs,” Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, interim president of the National Abortion Federation, said ahead of the vote. “This bill is just another reminder that while Roe may be the law of the land, it doesn’t guarantee women’s access to abortion care. Senators must vote no on S. 109.”
In addition to objecting to the content of S.109, reproductive rights opponents were appalled that after weeks of refusing to hold a vote on whether to re-open the government, now in the 27th day of the shutdown, McConnell made time for a vote on an extreme anti-choice bill.