The Hyde Amendment at 40 Years and Reproductive Rights in the United States Perennial and Panoptic

 On September 30, 1976, in the waning months of the 94th Congress, freshman Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) witnessed his namesake amendment enacted into law via the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriation Act of 1977 (PL 94-439).1 All of one sentence, the amendment stipulated that “None of the [Medicaid] funds contained in this Act shall be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.”1 For the past 40 years, the Hyde Amendment, an appropriation rider (annually renewed provision), has been unfailingly extended and frequently reworded.2 Moreover, its blueprint for the dissociation of federal funds from abortion services has been progressively applied to multiple public, as well as private, health insurance plans.2 Today, the Hyde Amendment remains controversial, and the subject of opposing partisan calls for its nullification or codification. This Viewpoint traces the evolution of the Hyde Amendment, explores its unremitting expansion, and discusses its likely future.