Unbowed, Undaunted, and Bold: Restoring Abortion Coverage and Achieving Reproductive Justice

Photo by Sylvia McFadden/Flickr

Year after year, Congress has turned a blind eye to a few obscure but malignant sentences tucked away in huge, must-pass bills. These provisions — the Hyde Amendment and its spawn — have harmed women by singling out and excluding abortion from a host of programs that fulfill our government’s obligation to provide health care to certain populations. As a result, millions of women are denied access to abortion care except in very limited circumstances.

Today leaders in Congress are saying, “No more.” With the introduction today of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act, members of Congress declared not only that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services, but they also prohibited political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care.

The inequity caused by the Hyde Amendment and its progeny is almost as old as the constitutional right to abortion itself and was opposed by the ACLU from the onset.  In fact, when poor women’s access to abortion came under attack in 1976 with the adoption of the Hyde Amendment, which limited the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions, the ACLU and others challenged the law on behalf of a pregnant Medicaid recipient and health care providers and blocked the law for nearly a year.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde restriction, and the devastating and detrimental impact it has had on women’s exercise of a fundamental right ever since cannot be denied. As a result of these restrictions, women who rely on the government for their healthcare do not have access to a procedure readily available to women of means and women with private insurance. A woman who does not have independent financial resources must scramble to raise the necessary funds; delay receiving abortion care, which can increase the medical risks and costs; and is often left with no choice but to carry to term in circumstances where she is physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially unprepared to or incapable of caring for a child.

These coverage bans are wrong. They are discriminatory. They harm women’s health and exacerbate existing health disparities. They represent a shameful disregard for and coercive interference in the lives of women who are most in need. They need to go.

This is why the EACH Woman Act is such an important step. It reminds us that abortion care is basic health care. It ensures that every pregnant woman will be empowered to make the decision that is best for her and her family, without governmental interference — regardless of her income, her type of insurance, or her zip code. This bill is a declaration that, despite the rampant attacks on abortion access and the sneaky maneuvers to further entrench abortion bans, we remain unbowed and unbroken. The road ahead may be long and difficult, but we will never stop fighting to secure and expand women’s access to abortion because our cause is righteous and necessary.    

Today we celebrate the EACH Woman Act and everything it represents: boldness, fairness, and justice.

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Anonymous

Killing babies is always wrong. You ignore this issue because you must; you can't get around it.

Anonymous

Whose rights takes precedent?
a woman's rights OR
an unborn child's rights ... stop ignoring those rights!

Tracy Bagley

An unwanted child is a burden, as I have so often been told. The crux of the matter is if a woman is desperate, abortions have always been available. Ask any woman who has been butchered by the "Local Baby Taker," before Roe vs. Wade. Unless the woman is wealthy, then there have always been professional, trained abortionists. Birth Control isn't perfect and being forced to have a child is equivalent to slavery. Those who deny a woman's right to choose how, when, or when not to reproduce are uneducated to the historical facts available and if those folks believe that a 20 wk fetus is viable, then surely they would take financial, social and parental responsibility for those fetuses. You must understand that a woman doesn't make the decision to abort a baby lightly nor in haste. The restrictions the abortion laws have placed on women, especially here in TX, are ridiculous and heartbreaking. There will be more unwanted children born and discarded and abused and few of you "Pro-Life" advocates will be there to pick those children up. You will be happy to incarcerate them. Perhaps that is what these laws intend, to increase the fiscal earnings of the privatized criminal justice system in a country that already incarcerates a larger percentage of its populaton than any other nation, including China, with an insane rate of recidivism for probationary and parollee prisoners. Just fodder for the system.

Anonymous

The road ahead may be long and difficult, but we will never stop fighting to secure and expand women’s access to abortion because our cause is righteous and necessary.
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