Women of color—particularly Black women—marched, wrote letters and knocked on doors in November to educate people about the issues facing our country like fair wages, child care and health care. The historic 2018 elections ultimately saw a record number of women of color voting and winning public office.
Now, we must turn that organizing into policy. That shift has already come to the fore in Congress, where the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act has been introduced in both the House and Senate for the first time.
The EACH Woman Act would ensure coverage for abortion for every woman—without penalizing anyone based on where she lives, how much she earns or how she is insured. This iteration of the legislation reflects years of unwavering leadership from women of color to lift abortion bans nationwide and at the federal level, and Rep. Barbara Lee and Sen. Tammy Duckworth introduced the bill in partnership with women of color leaders, including reproductive justice organizations in the All* Above All coalition.
For too long, anti-abortion politicians have interfered in women’s health decisions by banning insurance coverage for abortion care. The EACH Woman Act turns the tide on decades of politically-motivated, harmful attacks on abortion access and ensures that lack of coverage will not stand in the way of anyone making the best decision for themselves and their family.
Since the initial passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976, Congress has denied women insured through the Medicaid program coverage for abortion—including approximately 7 million women of reproductive age today who rely on Medicaid for access to comprehensive care. More than 400 restrictions on abortion have passed in state legislatures since 2010, pushing care out of reach for many low-income women and women of color; in 26 states, restrictions in place now interfere with abortion coverage in private insurance, and in 11 coverage in all private plans except in very limited circumstances is banned outright.
The harm of these actions falls hardest on those struggling financially—especially women of color, young people and transgender and non-binary folks. Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women seeking abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term—and a woman who wants to get an abortion but is denied is more likely to fall into poverty.
Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to deny anyone’s health coverage just because they are poor or because of how they are insured. Whether we have private or government-funded health insurance, each of us should have coverage for a full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion.
That’s why the EACH Woman Act matters. This groundbreaking legislation ensures that every woman who receives her health care or insurance through the federal government will have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, and it prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Ensuring coverage for the full range of services through the EACH Woman Act means each of us can make our own decisions about pregnancy based on what is best for our circumstances—without political interference, shame, or stigma.
The EACH Woman Act disrupts the destruction of bans like the Hyde Amendment, and it sends a strong message to anti-abortion politicians that women of color will continue to challenge their relentless and racist attempts to restrict abortion care—especially for those of us who are struggling financially and already face barriers to access.
The time is now to turn the tide against abortion restrictions into a wave of support for women’s health and reproductive justice. Let’s ensure that our organizing turns into real change. Let’s pass the EACH Woman Act.