EPPC Scholars Submit Comment Opposing Indian Health Service Proposed Abortion Funding Rule

Published March 8, 2024


On March 8, 2024, EPPC scholars Rachel N. Morrison, Eric Kniffin, and Natalie Dodson submitted a public comment opposing a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Indian Health Service (IHS) that would remove regulations that prevent IHS from funding abortion, except to save the life of the mother.  

IHS claimed the regulations were “outdated” in light of the “current statutory text” of the Hyde Amendment. Yet, as the EPPC scholars explained in their comment: 

The Hyde Amendment merely permits federal funding for limited abortions; it does not mandate IHS fund abortion. Further, the Hyde Amendment does not support removing regulations on definitions, ectopic pregnancy, recordkeeping, and confidentially, making the IHS’s proposal arbitrary and capricious. IHS fails to address the federalism impacts of its proposal that could preempt state laws protecting unborn children and adequately consider alternatives to its proposal.  

The scholars urged IHS to withdraw its proposed rule and maintain all of its current regulations. 

About the EPPC comment signers: 

  • Rachel N. Morrison, J.D., is an EPPC Fellow, director of EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project, and former attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 
  • Eric Kniffin, J.D., is an EPPC Fellow, member of the HHS Accountability Project, and a former attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. 
  • Natalie Dodson is a Policy Analyst and member of EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project

Other organizations and experts submitted comments opposing IHS’s proposal, including: 

Rachel N. Morrison is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she directs EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project. An attorney, her legal and policy work focuses on religious liberty, health care rights of conscience, the right to life, nondiscrimination, and civil rights.

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