Maine Just Taught Us a Bold Lesson on Abortion Rights

Three generations of women have lived under the oppressive Hyde Amendment, which bans insurance from covering abortion for people enrolled in Medicaid. So far, the Amendment has worked just as intended, ending coverage for more than half of reproductive-age women enrolled in Medicaid for abortion care and disproportionately hurting low-income people, especially women of color.

But states have the power to use their own funds so that no one is denied abortion coverage just because they are poor—and many have taken major steps during this legislative session to protect abortion rights and ends its harmful legacy.

My body my choice sign at a Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Lorie Shaull / Creative Commons)

Maine recently became the 16th state in the country to cover abortion care within their state Medicaid insurance, joining a growing wave of states and localities boldly expanding and protecting abortion access—and bringing us one step closer to a future where we all have the ability to make our own decisions about pregnancy and parenting.

Across the country, politicians are finally listening to their constituents—majorities of whom believe that once a woman has decided to have an abortion, the experience should be supportive, affordable and without added burdens.

In 2017, Illinois lifted their ban on abortion coverage in Medicaid, lifting Hyde’s restrictions in his own home state. This year, the state’s Reproductive Health Act closed additional gaps by requiring private insurance to also cover abortion care and establishing the fundamental right of all people to make individual decisions about reproductive health care, including contraception, abortion and maternity care. States like Vermont, New York, and Nevada are also passing legislation to ensure their state law unequivocally supports an affirmative right to abortion.

And just last month, New York City became the first city in the country to directly fund abortion care by expanding the Reproductive and Sexual Health Services Initiative to include a grant to New York Abortion Access Fund. The organization is already serving many who must travel to New York for abortion care, and is preparing for that number to grow—so the funding is available for New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers alike.

Make no mistake: We are moving towards a bold future where everyone can live their lives with dignity and economic security, however many obstacles anti-abortion politicians throw in our way. The winds are changing, and more voters are realizing the true impact of the Hyde Amendment. Now, more than ever, we must lead with a bold vision of a future where families thrive and where each of us can participate with full dignity and equality, however much money we make.

The proactive measures now in place across the country to safeguard abortion access show that when we fight together for a bold future of dignity and respect, we win.


Destiny Lopez is the Co-Director of All* Above All, a coalition working to restore and sustain insurance coverage for abortion. She was previously a principal at the communications firm ConwayStrategic, where she led innovative campaigns for the Ms. Foundation, the COMS Project and other clients; and served as director of Latino engagement for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, executive director of ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, an account director at Fenton Communications and vice president of programs at NARAL Pro-Choice New York. She is also past chair of the Board of Directors of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and previously served on the boards of the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, Forward Together and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. Destiny was recently named to the 2016 cohort of Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Fellowship for Leaders in Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice; received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from the American Public Health Association; and was honored by the National Women’s Health Network on its 30th anniversary.