EACH Woman Act Fact Sheet

THE EQUAL ACCESS TO ABORTION COVERAGE

IN HEALTH INSURANCE (EACH Woman) ACT:

Groundbreaking Legislation for Reproductive Justice

The EACH Woman Act is bold legislation to reverse the Hyde Amendment and related abortion funding restrictions. Initially introduced in the House in July 2015, this legislation (HR 1692 and S 758) was reintroduced on March 12, 2019, by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Diana DeGette (D-CO). The legislation was also introduced in the Senate for the first time ever by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

 LEGISLATIVE OVERVIEW

 The EACH Woman Act makes a meaningful policy change for women and their families, creating two important standards for reproductive health:

  1. First, it sets up the federal government as a standard-bearer, ensuring that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services. The EACH Woman Act restores abortion coverage to those:
  • enrolled in a government health insurance plan (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare), including those who live in the District of Columbia;
  • enrolled in a government-managed health insurance program (i.e., FEHBP, TRICARE) due to an employment relationship; or
  • receiving health care from a government provider or program (i.e., Indian Health Services, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration).

2. Second, it prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Federal, state and local legislators will not be able to interfere with the private insurance market, including the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.

 CURRENT RESTRICTIONS

 Since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, anti-choice federal politicians have added abortion coverage and funding bans to programs affecting:

  • Medicaid, 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;
  • Military servicewomen, veterans and their dependents; and
  • Low-income women in the District of Columbia.

Currently, 35 states and the District of Columbia do not cover abortion within their state Medicaid programs, except for limited exceptions.[1] Additionally, anti-abortion politicians in 26 states have enacted restrictions that interfere with abortion as a covered health service in health plans offered by health insurance exchanges, 22 states restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans available for public employees, and 11 states have laws restricting insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans written in the state.[2]

 THE IMPACT OF ABORTION COVERAGE BANS

 When policymakers deny women insurance coverage for abortion, they either are forced to carry the pregnancy to term or pay for care out of their own pockets. Consequently, cutting off access to or placing strict limitations on abortion can have profoundly harmful effects on public health, particularly for those who already face significant barriers to receiving high-quality care, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young women, and women of color.

  • Fifty-eight (58%) of reproductive-age women enrolled in Medicaid live in states that withhold insurance coverage for abortion except in limited circumstances.[3]
  • Fifty-one percent (51%) of reproductive-age women enrolled in Medicaid and subject to abortion coverage restrictions are women of color.[4]
  • Studies show that when policymakers place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking an abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.[5]
  • When a woman is living paycheck to paycheck, denying coverage for an abortion can push her deeper into poverty. Indeed, studies show that a woman who seeks an abortion but is denied is more likely to fall into poverty than one who is able to get an abortion.[6]
  • Women with lower socioeconomic status – specifically those who are least able to afford out-of-pocket medical expenses – already experience disproportionately high rates of adverse health conditions. Denying access to abortion care only exacerbates existing health disparities.[7]
  • Due to a number of underlying reasons connected to inequity, women of color are more likely to qualify for government insurance programs that restrict abortion coverage and are more likely to experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy.[8]
  • In summary, when it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become a parent, it is vital that a woman is able to consider all the options available to her, however little money she makes or however she is insured. The EACH Woman Act creates a more even playing field, so that a lack of health coverage will not stand in the way of a woman making the best decision for her and her family.

 

[1]State funding of abortion under Medicaid. Guttmacher Institute. December 2018. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/state-funding-abortion-under-medicaid.

[2] Restricting Insurance Coverage of Abortion. Guttmacher Institute. December 2018. Available at https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/restricting-insurance-coverage-abortion.

[3] Donovan M. In Real Life: Federal Restrictions on Abortion Coverage and the Women They Impact. Guttmacher Institute. January 2017. Available at https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2017/01/real-life-federal-restrictions-abortion-coverage-and-women-they-impact

[4] Ibid

[5] Henshaw SK et al., Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review, Guttmacher Institute, 2009. Available at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/MedicaidLitReview.pdf

[6] Foster DG et al, Socioeconomic consequences of abortion compared to unwanted birth, abstract presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting, San Francisco, Oct. 27–31, 2012. Available at https://apha.confex.com/apha/140am/webprogram/Paper263858.html

[7] Ibid

[8] Arons, J et al. How the Hyde Amendment Discriminates Against Poor Women and Women of Color. Center for American Progress, May 2013. Available at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/news/2013/05/10/62875/how-the-hyde-amendment-discriminates-against-poor-women-and-women-of-color/

Fact Sheet: About the Hyde Amendment

The Hyde Amendment is language in the yearly Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (often shortened to Labor-H or LHHS) appropriations legislation that bars programs in these agencies from covering abortion. This restriction primarily withholds abortion coverage from those qualified and enrolled in the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income people, except in the limited cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.

The Hyde Amendment is designed to deprive poor and minority women of the constitutional right to choose abortion.”

-Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1980)

THE HYDE AMENDMENT PAVED THE WAY FOR OTHER FEDERAL ABORTION COVERAGE RESTRICTIONS

Since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976, anti-choice politicians have added abortion coverage and funding bans to appropriations language  that restricts: Medicaid, 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; women who receive health care from community health centers; survivors of human trafficking; and low-income women in the District of Columbia.

Click here for more on state laws related to insurance coverage of abortion.

REAL WORLD IMPACT OF THE HYDE AMENDMENT

  • Medicaid coverage can mean the difference between getting abortion care or being denied. Studies show that when policymakers place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking an abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.1
  • When a woman is living paycheck to paycheck, denying coverage for an abortion can push her deeper into poverty. Indeed, studies show that a woman who seeks an abortion but is denied is more likely to fall into poverty than one who is able to get an abortion.2
  • 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. 51% of these enrollees are women of color.3
  • The Hyde Amendment creates an often insurmountable barrier to abortion for women across the country already struggling to get affordable health care, and disproportionately affects those who are low-income, people of color, young, immigrants, or live in rural communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hyde Amendment is not permanent law. Congress has the opportunity to lift the Hyde Amendment each year. Tell them to take action now.

 

Sources:
1 Henshaw SK et al., Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review, Guttmacher Institute, 2009. Available at http://bit.ly/1IK5XcF.
2 Foster DG, Roberts SCM and Mauldon J, Socioeconomic consequences of abortion compared to unwanted birth, abstract presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health
Association, San Francisco, Oct. 27–31, 2012. Available at http://bit.ly/1PvNd4w.
3 Donovan, M., In Real life: Federal Restrictions on Abortion Coverage and the Women They Impact, Guttmacher Institute. Guttmacher Policy Review. Vol. 20. 2017. Available. At http://bit.ly/2j6Ec3W.

City of Easthampton, MA Council Resolution

A resolution supporting the ROE Act and full access to abortion.

City of Greenfield, MA Council Resolution

A resolution supporting full access for abortion, the ROE Act, and reproductive justice.

Town of Amherst, MA Resolution

A resolution affirming support for access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and across the United States.

 

 

City of Northampton Council Resolution

A resolution affirming support for access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and across the United States.

 

City of Somerville Council Resolution

A resolution supporting full access to abortion and reproductive justice.

Sample Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

While abortion has been legal the U.S. thanks to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, abortion care remains effectively out of reach for too many people. The reason? The Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, bans coverage of abortion for women enrolled in Medicaid health insurance. And, the Trump administration and his friends in Congress have already tried three times this year to make it harder for those with private health insurance to get coverage for an abortion.

This interferes with one of the most important decisions anyone can make—whether or not to become a parent. However we feel about abortion, no one should be denied insurance coverage for it just because she’s poor.

The EACH Woman Act will ensure each of us has abortion coverage, however much money we make, wherever we live, or however we get our health insurance.

And, the Trump administration is currently considering rules that would it harder for women with private health insurance to get coverage for an abortion.

We don’t have to imagine what it looks like when abortion is pushed out of reach. Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women seeking abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. In fact, women who are denied abortion care are more likely to fall into poverty.

It’s time Congress pass the EACH Woman Act now to ensure extremist politicians no longer interfere with a woman’s decision whether or not to have an abortion and so that every woman will have insurance coverage for abortion, however much money she makes.

 

Dear Editor,

When a woman decides to end her pregnancy, it is important that she has access to safe, affordable medical care. And the best way to do this is by providing insurance coverage – whether public or private – so she can see a licensed, quality health provider and make the best decisions for herself and her family.

Each of us faces different circumstances, and whatever our personal experience, we should be able to get the care we need without politically-motivated interference. It is imperative that we safeguard women’s health and well-being by ensuring that everyone has insurance coverage for the pregnancy care they need, including abortion care, without potentially harmful delay or interference.

When it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become a parent, it is vital that a woman is able to consider all the options available to her, however she receives her health coverage.

Passing the EACH Woman Act gets us one step closer.

 

Dear Editor,

Lack of insurance coverage for abortion for poor women is one of the main barriers to reproductive health equity in this country. That’s why passing the EACH Woman Act to ensure every woman has insurance coverage for abortion is long overdue.

When it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become parent, it is vital that a woman is able to consider all the options available to her, however much money she makes. It’s not our place to interfere with her decision by withholding coverage. Decisions like these are best left to a woman, her family, and her health care provider.

We simply can’t always know a woman’s unique circumstances, therefore it is not our place to judge her experience or decisions.

I urge my [U.S. representative/U.S. senator NAME] to support the EACH Woman Act and for politicians to stop interfering with a woman’s ability to make her own important health care decisions by imposing restrictions on abortion coverage.

St. Louis, MO Board of Alderman Resolution

On February 1, 2019, the St. Louis Board of Alderman passed Resolution 225, introduced by Alderman Annie Rice. Currently, MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid program, restricts the coverage of abortion for the more than 10,000 women enrolled in Medicare across St. Louis, and a series of other restrictions in state and federal law effectively ban the use of insurance to cover abortion costs in Missouri. This resolution called for the passage of policies, including the EACH Woman Act, which would allow all women access to the full range of pregnancy-related health care, including abortion, regardless of their public or private insurance. It also called on other state and federal officials to end bans on abortion coverage for women in public insurance programs.

Carrboro, North Carolina Resolution

On October 16, 2018, the Carrboro, NC Board of Alders unanimously passed a resolution marking the 42nd year of the Hyde Amendment and calling for an end on state and federal bans on abortion coverage. NIRH and All* Above All partnered with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina to advocate for passage of the resolution.