"I would certainly 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," former Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) said as he put forward signature legislation still bearing his name, the Hyde Amendment. It's in large part due to Rep. Hyde that funds like the DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) exist.
The Hyde Amendment bans federal money from being used to pay for abortion care, meaning that any woman who has Medicaid as her insurance, or other groups like federal employees and Peace Corps volunteers, do not have coverage for an abortion should they need one, except in cases of rape, incest or to save her life. Abortion is the only medical procedure that is treated in this way. Since its passage, it has been estimated that more than a million women have been denied care.
Today marks the the 37th anniversary of the vote to pass the Hyde Amendment in Congress. By barring federal funding, Hyde has a disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color and young women, creating often insurmountable obstacles. Indeed, restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. That we can claim to be the land of opportunity while forcing women into unwanted pregnancies, is disconcerting to say the least.
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