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AOC: ‘Hyde Amendment Is about Income Inequality’ Not Abortion

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Capitol Hill, February 27, 2019 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Sunday praised former vice president Joe Biden for his recently announced opposition to the Hyde amendment and said that her own opposition to the prohibition on the direct federal funding of abortion is rooted in her concern about income inequality.

“I’m encourage by the fact that he is now against the Hyde Amendment,” Ocasio-Cortez told ABC’s Jonathan Karl when asked about Biden’s recent reversal on the issue.

Ocasio-Cortez, who launched a petition over the weekend to build public support for the amendment’s repeal, went on to explain that the direct federal funding of abortion is necessary to protect the abortion rights of incarcerated pregnant women.

“Reproductive health care for incarcerated women should be guaranteed as it is with all women in the United States, so I think it really depends,” said the freshman New York lawmaker. More from her remarks:

And that’s really what the Hyde amendment is really about. The Hyde amendment isn’t about abortion per se. The Hyde amendment is truly about equality of healthcare and healthcare access for low income women and women of color and women that get caught in our mass incarceration system. And so the Hyde amendment is about income inequality and it’s about women’s healthcare in a system of income inequality. So I think that we need to repeal it.

After maintaining support for the Hyde amendment throughout his decades-long career in politics, Biden reversed himself last month in response to pressure from abortion-advocacy groups.

“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta, citing the restrictive abortion bills recently passed in a number of southern states as the impetus for his reversal.

Biden’s high-profile reversal on the Hyde amendment prompted an outpouring of public statements from his 2020 Democratic primary opponents about the need to repeal the amendment, which has been added as a rider to federal spending bills in the decades since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

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