September 30 Marks 42 Years of Restricting Abortion Coverage


Contact: Dilara Yilmaz, dilara@conwaystrategic.com, 917-783-3973

Washington, D.C. – Sunday marks the 42nd year since the passage of the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has banned Medicaid health insurance from covering abortion care. Coverage bans create an often insurmountable barrier to abortion for those across the country already struggling to get affordable health care, and disproportionately affect those who are low-income, people of color, young, immigrants, or live in rural communities.

“Every year, abortion fund helplines hear from 150,000 people who have to make impossible decisions, like choosing between paying for rent or for their abortion care, because of the Hyde Amendment,” said Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director, National Network of Abortion Funds. “Our network can only fill a portion of the financial gaps left by the Hyde Amendment, and that’s why we’re building collective power across the country at the same time to lift coverage bans and ensure that each of us can access the care we need free from political interference and stigma.”

This year, reproductive justice activists have organized 55 events in 23 states to rally around its repeal, including a fish fry and community conversation in Atlanta, a glow-in-the-dark SoulCycle class in Palo Alto, and a collective art action with luminous body paint in Decatur, GA.

Efforts led by women of color over the past several years have resulted in  have expansion of abortion coverage in Illinois and Oregon. Local governments in 15 communities across the country have passed resolutions demonstrating support among elected officials for abortion coverage.

“For 42 years, politicians have been punishing low-income women by taking away their abortion coverage in the Medicaid program. But, we’re closer than ever to ending this inhumane policy,” said Destiny Lopez, Co-Director, All* Above All. “People of color across this country are logging thousands of miles, knocking on doors, sharing their stories, and leading efforts to end funding restrictions and expand abortion coverage.”

 Studies show that when policymakers place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. A woman who seeks abortion but is denied is more likely to fall into poverty than one who is able to get an abortion. According to the most recent data, 58% of women of reproductive age enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP live in states that ban Medicaid coverage for abortion except in limited circumstances. Just over half of these enrollees – 51% — are women of color.

The stakes for abortion access for women of color could not be higher right now,” said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Latinas are often hit hardest by restrictions on abortion care and coverage, but we’re also leaders in the fight and we’re fighting for each other.”

 This year’s anniversary comes as Oregon and West Virginia voters will consider ballot measures this year that threaten abortion coverage in those states. Since the Hyde Amendment passed, anti-abortion politicians have doubled down on this strategy to make abortion more unaffordable by adding similar insurance and funding restrictions for Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees, Federal employees and their dependents, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans, women in federal prisons and detention centers, including those detained for immigration purposes, survivors of human trafficking, and low-income women in the District of Columbia.

Public support for abortion coverage remains high, with a 2017 poll showing that 55 percent of voters support Medicaid coverage for abortion. The same poll shows that 85 percent of voters believe a woman who is able to make decisions about her own about her own reproductive healthcare, including whether and when to have children, has more control over her own economic security.

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