25 Percent Would If They Could

Twenty-five. That's the percent of women who say they would've obtained a Medicaid-funded abortion if they had the option, but instead carried their pregnancies to term. According to a new Guttmacher report released yesterday, many of these women are forced to forgo an abortion because they lack personal funds to pay for the procedure. I can hear the anti-choice advocates popping their Champagne corks now. But, the story is more complicated.

The Hyde Amendment, which was enacted in 1976, excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services the federal government provides to low-income people through Medicaid. Congress has carved out some exceptions to the ban over the years; currently the only abortions allowed under the federal Medicaid program are those involving a case of rape or incest or when a pregnant woman's life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury. Presently, 32 states and Washington, D.C., follow the federal government's lead. South Dakota, in violation of the Hyde Amendment, is even more draconian and only pays for abortions if a women's life is in danger. That leaves only 17 states that use their own money to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions. That means that only 17 states will help a woman obtain an abortion when her health is in danger. So, that 25 percent I mentioned earlier includes women with cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, or whose pregnancies otherwise threaten their health who are nonetheless forced to carry their pregnancies to term because they are not deemed likely enough to die from their pregnancies for the government to pay for an abortion.

Guttmacher's new report, "Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review," also found that Medicaid funding restrictions delay some women's abortions by two to three weeks, as the women scrounge up the funds necessary for the procedure. Delaying an abortion can both increase the cost of the procedure and the risks. Moreover, when Medicaid will not pay for a low-income woman's abortion, she is often forced to divert money that would otherwise be used to pay for regular expenses, like rent, utility bills, food, and clothing for herself and her children.

The bottom line is that the government uses abortion funding restrictions to coerce poor women into carrying their pregnancies to term. Because Medicaid will offer assistance for prenatal care if a woman chooses to carry her pregnancy to term but will deny funding if the same woman needs to end her pregnancy, the government is using public dollars to intrude on a poor woman's decision about whether or not to have an abortion. The right to decide whether to have a child should not be contingent upon one's income. However, by withholding benefits from poor women who seek to end an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy, the government is interfering with this profoundly personal decision and effectively denying poor women access to basic reproductive health care.

If we really want to build a healthier and more just America, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the full-range of reproductive health services, including birth control, prenatal care, cancer screening, and abortion. It also means investing in comprehensive pregnancy and disease prevention education programs so that young people have the information they need to make responsible, healthy, and safe decisions about relationships and sexual activity.

Moreover, in a truly just America, a woman facing an unintended pregnancy should have the opportunity to make the best decision for herself and her family, regardless of her financial status. We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but as yesterday's Guttmacher report makes clear, it is important that we support every woman's health and autonomy, and make sure that all options and services are available to those who need them.

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Allie I'm sorry you wish 25% of children born to a mother on Medicaid were dead. Would you have supported your mother's right to abort you? I usually don't but, I would have made an exception for you.

Philip Weiss

Hey! Would you mind turning the full-text feed back on? Headline only ain't cutting it. It's so much easier to read the Blog of Rights in my feed reader because I can do that offline.


All I have to say is.....murder of a child.


"We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but as yesterday’s Guttmacher report makes clear, it is important that we support every woman’s health and autonomy"

I do respect every woman's autonomy... including financial autonomy. While I respect that in this country, a woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy... I'm not sure why my tax dollars should finance such a decision.

If funding abortions is important to you, you have the opportunity to personally underwrite these procedures through several organizations. I, though, will continue to finance adoptions.

Lex, your vicious comments do not help the discussion.


Here's the deal. Unwanted children are a burden on society. An increase in abortion has been shown to have a positive impact on future crime rates for example. I would not mind at all if my taxes went towards abortions.

Anyone who says that they do not want to fund murder should also be speaking out against wars and execution, but strangely you never hear from them about any other issue.

C Harrison

These 25% of women do have a choice to have a baby, but they had already made that choice when they had relations. Every women and man knows how baby's are conceive and as far as I am concern they made that choice to have a baby when they had sex. We should not fund these abortions or any other abortions for that matter.

darrell luedtke

I am against the litigation you have against the Mojave desert monument.


I wonder if the religious anti-abortion crowd realizes how many pregnancies end in miscarriage. But then, I guess abortion is okay if god does it...


First and foremost an abortion costs $350 dollars. These women decided to carry the baby to term because of $350 dollars? Why should the government pay for that? Im definitly pro-choice..but damn if the federal government is going to pay for everything.. Especially some women who have 5 abortions cause they want to sleep around without protection. Who is next? Let's reimburse criminals for the trauma they exhibit in jail.. YOU PEOPLE ARE FREAKIN CRAZY!


Mark, You know I have been blogging on here for a while and I have read some pretty stupid stuff and there was a guy a couple month ago talking about torture that I thought was stupid but you have now taken over his spot as being dumbest thing I have ever read on this website. That was stupid. Really are you that stupid? Lets hope not.


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