After more than four decades of work by women of color, there is unprecedented momentum to end the Hyde Amendment. The EACH Act brings us one step closer.
Abortion is legal in the United States—but that’s not the same as being truly accessible. The countless barriers, including insurance coverage bans, mountain of state restrictions, and the shuttering of abortion clinics are often too much for many people to take on alone.
When people cannot afford to pay for an abortion or need help covering travel costs, they turn to local abortion funds across the country. Volunteers and staff help their callers navigate a costly and complicated system, but they are hammered with far more requests than we can meet. Too many people aren’t able to receive direct funding, leaving them unsure of how they will afford to get an abortion or if they’ll even get care all.
The amount of money someone has, or the type of health insurance they have, should never dictate the ability to get an abortion. Yet every year, anti-abortion politicians in Congress overreach and interfere in one of life’s most personal decisions—whether or not to become a parent—by attaching the Hyde Amendment to annual appropriations bills and blocking people working to make ends meet who are enrolled in Medicaid from using their insurance coverage to pay for an abortion.
This policy directly targets people who struggle to make ends meet. The author of the policy, Henry Hyde, was crystal clear about it, saying:
“I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the … Medicaid bill.”
Now, after more than four decades of work by women of color, there is unprecedented momentum to end the Hyde Amendment. And today, we are one step closer with the introduction of the EACH Act by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
The EACH Act would put an end to this blatant bullying by reversing the Hyde Amendment and ensuring that anyone who gets their insurance through Medicaid or other federal insurance will be covered for abortion and other pregnancy-related care.
Medicaid was created to make sure that however much money someone makes, they can receive the health care they need. Blocking coverage for abortion betrays that promise. It means those who are already marginalized by our health systems will be the least able pay for an abortion.
People enrolled in Medicaid are disproportionately women of color, and it’s no surprise. Systemic racism—just like anti-immigrant policies, transphobia, and homophobia—create the conditions for economic insecurity. Our health care system is notoriously part of a culture that marginalizes and treats people who are struggling financially as less worthy of being listened to and less worthy of making their own decisions about their lives and their health care. The Hyde Amendment compounds it.
That’s not the world anyone wants. As advocates for racial, economic and reproductive justice, we’re seeking to build a world where barriers to abortion care are broken down and no one is left wondering if care will be available when they need it.
As we begin to make abortion justice a reality, the EACH Act would establish two important principles:
- First, it would actualize the truth that each of us should have the freedom and support to make our own decisions about pregnancy and parenting.
- Secondly, the EACH Act ends political interference with decisions of private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care.
The bottom line is, everyone should have insurance that covers their health care needs without politicians pulling apart the fabric of support we’ve all had to cobble together.
Making abortion truly accessible means making abortion affordable. The work abortion funds do to raise and distribute community funds is a critical part of that process––the EACH Act is another. We need bold policy that can both undo the harm of the past and create a new future that prioritizes freedom, compassion and justice.
Politicians can no longer be allowed to interfere in the decision to have an abortion. It’s time to repeal the Hyde Amendment, pass the EACH Act, and put power back in the hands of people who seek abortion care.
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