September 30, 2018, marked the 42nd anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.
It’s no secret that abortion care can be a costly expense for women around the country. As a result of the Hyde Amendment, about 7.4 million women ages 15-49 who have health insurance through Medicaid cannot use their insurance to cover abortion in most circumstances. Kelsey Ryland with All* Above All sits down with us to discuss the details of the Hyde Amendment related to abortion funding restrictions, how it affects women, and why it must go.
The Hyde Amendment states that abortion care is not covered for those that receive their insurance coverage through the Medicaid program. This amendment is a yearly appropriations writer and has been since 1976. Women who are enrolled in the Medicaid program are typically enrolled due to their income status. If a woman enrolled in Medicaid needs an abortion and lives in one of the 33 states that does not use state dollars to cover abortion care, that woman must pay for her abortion out of pocket. The cost of an abortion could equal someone’s rent or grocery bill for the month. This ban falls most heavily on young people, people of color, and LGBTQ folks. There are 17 states that have decided through their own courts or state legislatures to use their own state dollars for women enrolled in Medicaid to access abortion.
In the Medicaid program and under the Hyde Amendment, abortion care will be theoretically covered if the pregnant person is pregnant due to rape or incest, or their health is at risk.
There are multiple obstacles to keep in mind while trying to access abortion care in certain states, including gathering funds, finding transportation to the (sometimes only one) clinic, receiving scientifically inaccurate information, mandatory wait-periods, etc. These barriers at the state level can interact with the Hyde Amendment in order to further limit women’s ability to access services, which is a time-sensitive concern.
What does this mean for women across the country? Rosie Jimenez lost her life due to barriers created by the Hyde Amendment. Unable to receive a needed abortion shortly after the Hyde Amendment’s passing, she sought an abortion that was not provided in a safe environment. Rose Jimenez died from septic shock shortly thereafter. This isn’t just a discussion of policy, but of the well being of women.
The impact of the Hyde Amendment on women has a far reach, but it impacts women on Medicaid the heaviest. 7.2 million women of reproductive age are enrolled in Medicaid live in a state that does not cover abortion care with state dollars. Again, young people, people of color, and LGBTQ people often bear the brunt of these barriers.
Congress has come to the decision that the Hyde Amendment is not enough of an obstacle for women who are trying to access abortion care. We’ve seen renewed attacks this Congress to restrict abortion coverage, and these attacks reach to the private market. When women are denied access to abortion care, it is more likely that they will fall into poverty. Women can make the right decisions at the right time, and must be able to do so without political interference within their doctor’s offices. That’s why the EACH Woman Act, introduced in the 114th Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is a bill that champions the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.