September 30, 2016, marked 40 years since the passage of the Hyde Amendment, which denies coverage of abortion care for patients who rely on Medicaid. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) firmly believes that every woman — regardless of their socioeconomic status, race or zip code — should have the ability to make decisions about abortion without barriers.
However we feel about abortion, politicians shouldn’t be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage just because she's low-income. The Hyde Amendment is a dangerous and unfair policy that allows politicians to interfere with a woman’s personal decisions, undermining the autonomy and dignity of women. It particularly harms low-income women of color who disproportionately rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage, which sends the unjust message that low-income women don’t deserve the same access, nor dignity, to make personal life choices as women with private insurance.
In order for a woman to be able to make a real decision based on what is best for her circumstances, she needs to be able to access and afford the care she needs. When insurance coverage provides for all pregnancy-related care except abortion, it interferes with private health decisions that are best left to a woman and her family.
Among only a few other states, California has a long history of supporting a woman's access to reproductive health, including abortion services. For low-income women in our state, this means they can obtain abortion services through the Medi-Cal system, paid for through state, not federal dollars so abortion services are accessible without violating the Hyde Amendment.
But for most of the rest of the nation, that's unfortunately not the case.
For years, reproductive justice leaders, organizations like All Above All and other advocates for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment have centered its impact on low-income women who rely on Medicaid for insurance coverage. That advocacy led to centering the real experiences facing women of color, low-income women, young people, immigrants, transgender people and gender nonconforming people when accessing abortion care. Historically, marginalized people have experienced medical abuse against their will and significant barriers in accessing health care, including abortion. The Hyde Amendment is another barrier to people fighting for their bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. Every person should have the ability to make decisions about their pregnancy without interference of discriminatory policy like the Hyde Amendment or shameful rhetoric from opponents of abortion care.
On the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, we will double down our efforts with our partners in advocating for the repeal of this dangerous amendment. Repealing Hyde would be a historic shift for low-income Americans who for too long have faced incredible financial barriers to accessing safe and legal abortion.
A majority of Americans agree that a woman enrolled in Medicaid should have all her pregnancy-related health care covered by her insurance, including abortion services. PPAC is committed to working with communities and partners to fight for health equity and increased access to health care, including abortion care. Most importantly, we trust women to make the best decisions for their lives and their families, including decisions on abortion.
Join the conversation. #BeBoldEndHyde #United4Coverage