The Public Agrees: It’s Time to End the Hyde Amendment

For 43 years, the Hyde Amendment has operated the way its namesake, Congressman Henry Hyde, intended—creating a barrier to abortion care for people struggling financially.

Congress has renewed this ban on Medicaid funding of abortion care every year since it was first passed in 1976. Over the years, anti-abortion politicians have also used the Hyde Amendment to deny abortion care to growing numbers of people, including Peace Corps volunteers; Native Americans; women in federal prisons and detention centers; survivors of human trafficking; and low-income women in the District of Columbia. 

For low-income people, who are more likely to be women of color, Medicaid coverage can mean the difference between getting abortion care and not getting it. Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four low-income women who want an abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term—and researchtells us that when a woman wants to get an abortion but is denied, she is more likely to fall into poverty, less likely to have a full-time job and twice as likely to experience domestic violence.

Year after year, polling has shown voters do not support abortion coverage bans like Hyde. Today, opposition to bans on insurance coverage of abortion is at an all time high. In fact, new polling shows that since 2017, the proportion of voters who strongly support Medicaid coverage for abortion has increased by seven points. 

When women of color leaders came together six years ago to launch All* Above All, no one talked about the Hyde Amendment. But after years of fighting, organizing and educating people, the tide is turning.

Lawmakers in Maine, Illinois, New York City, and Austin have taken action to ensure Medicaid and private insurance coverage and practical support for abortion; and leaders like U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) introduced the EACH Woman Act this year, a groundbreaking piece of legislation with more than 160 co-sponsors in Congress that ends abortion coverage bans and ensures each of us can get affordable abortion care, whether we have public or private health insurance.

Lifting abortion coverage bans entirely is within reach. In fact, 75 percent of voters nationally believe every woman should be able to get the full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion, regardless of whether she has private or government-funded health insurance.

Politicians must act now to demonstrate their commitment to women and families by eliminating Hyde’s insurmountable barriers to abortion that disproportionately affect those who are low-income, people of color, young, immigrants or live in rural communities. And they should know that the public is with them.

The majority of voters believe the unprecedented attacks on abortion coming from the Trump administration and anti-abortion politicians in state legislatures across the country are taking us in the wrong direction, and eliminating insurance coverage bans is aligned with this significant opposition to state laws restricting access to abortion. 

The impact of abortion coverage bans and restrictions on women who are struggling financially is also something voters across the political spectrum are concerned about; more than three in four voters, including high numbers of independent and suburban women, agree that the amount of money a woman has should not determine whether she can get healthcare services, including abortion.

Getting rid of Hyde and other abortion coverage bans is the right thing to do. Federal and state lawmakers know it, and voters support it.

About

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.