On September 30, the Hyde Amendment celebrated its 35th year of preventing low-income women from accessing abortion. The Hyde Amendment bans federal dollars from being used to pay for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother. The way this legislation is enforced varies from state to state, but in most states it creates a significant barrier between women and the services they need.
This legislation has long been opposed by advocates for choice, as it effectively prevents the majority of low-income women from accessing abortion services. Many opponents see it as a direct attack on low-income families that rely on public benefits. When you consider that the Hyde Amendment is traditionally a rider on the yearly legislation that funds those programs, it’s a hard point to ignore.
The public debate over the Hyde Amendment has fired up recently with the completion of a study of publicly funded abortion. According to the results, which were published in the American Journal of Public Health, the majority of abortions that should qualify for public funding still do not receive it:
“The researchers found that 37 percent of the 1,165 abortions provided for cases of
rape, incest, or life endangerment included in the research were ultimately covered by
Medicaid. The rest were paid by the women themselves, by the abortion providers
or by nonprofit, contribution-based abortion funds.
. . .‘Ibis’ research has shown that in states where abortion coverage is limited
to the Hyde Amendment exceptions, it is extremely challenging for providers to get
reimbursed,’ said Kelly Blanchard, principal investigator of the study and president of
Ibis.” —On Anniversary Of Funding Ban, Even Allowed Abortions Often Go Unpaid For,
In other words, if you live in a state that does not provide Medicaid funding for abortion, you may not be able to access state or federal abortion funding—even when you technically qualify for it. This may seem shocking, but it is reality—and it is a reality that advocates for women’s health have been aware of for a long time. The bottom line is that the legislators who write funding bans like the Hyde Amendment may include “compassionate” exceptions to the rule on paper, but don’t support putting them in practice. Medicaid fights the claims, and low-income women end up footing the bill or being forced to carry pregnancies to term because they can not afford the same rights as women of means.
This is where funds like Women Have Options step in. We believe that every woman has the right to make choices about her healthcare, regardless of financial circumstances. We disagree with politicians who feel they have the right to stop women from making those choices, be it through bans on funding, restricting providers and clinics, or contributing to the shame and stigma for those who choose to terminate a pregnancy. We stand in solidarity with our pro-choice allies and will continue to fight for women to have real choices about their health and their bodies. Most importantly, we put our money where our mouth is by providing direct funding to the clients who need it. This is why abortion funds are important, and this is why we need your support!
Don’t let the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment pass without making a stand for choice. Sign the NNAF petitionto see this dangerous and shortsighted legislation repealed for good. Call or write your elected representatives and tell them you want abortion funding bans eliminated. And most importantly, keep supporting Women Have Options—because as long as these funding bans exist, we’ll be working hard to keep choice alive for every woman in Ohio!