After 40 years of the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, members of the National Network of Abortion Funds are speaking out about the localized impact of the harmful policy, and imagining their work without this huge barrier to reproductive justice.
Indiana has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including an 18-hour waiting period, required prenatal ultrasound, and a ban on telemedicine for medical abortions. When coupled with the Hyde Amendment’s denial of public health insurance for abortion care, the effects on pregnant people in Indiana are catastrophic. The brunt of Hyde is salt in an open wound, disproportionately impacting Hoosiers who already face significant barriers to accessing the health care they need and deserve, including low-income people, communities of color, immigrants, and trans folx. With 93% of counties lacking an abortion clinic due to targeted laws aimed at patients and providers, the costs of travel and lodging become costly obstacles that make obtaining an abortion an inaccessible option for most. Location, income, nor insurance status, should impede pregnant people and their health care decisions – yet every year Congress does not stand up for pregnant people’s right to bodily autonomy and repeal the Hyde Amendment.
Housed out of All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, the Hoosier Abortion Fund (HAF) is the first statewide, community-based source for Hoosiers in need of financial and practical support (transportation, childcare, and lodging) for their abortions. We believe intrinsically that abortion is a right and not just a privilege for those who can afford it. The HAF is a direct response to dangerous state and federal legislation, like the Hyde Amendment, trusting and enabling Hoosiers to make the best decisions for themselves and their families without question or judgment.
“The Network for Reproductive Options funds abortions primarily in Oregon and Idaho, and the Hyde Amendment and Medicaid access make these two neighboring states seem worlds away from each other. We are so lucky that Oregon decided to expand Medicaid, making more people than ever eligible for state health insurance, and that Oregon has committed to providing state dollars to cover abortion services for Medicaid patients. While patients still struggle with access abortion because of geographic location, private insurance plans that do not cover abortions, and legal permanent residents of less than 5 years and undocumented people being ineligible for Medicaid, we applaud Oregon’s commitment to self determination and body autonomy. In Idaho, the state has decided to not cover the cost of abortions for people on Medicaid, and the state has not expanded Medicaid- leaving many people uninsured, and even those that have state insurance face huge financial barriers to cover an abortion that their health insurance will not. If the Hyde Amendment did not exist, we could spend more of our resources- time, funding and energy on reducing other barriers to abortion people face, and most importantly- working with communities on upstream solutions to ensure that everyone had the resources they needed to have the families they want.”
“Texas has been at the forefront at some of the most historic fights for reproductive rights in our country’s history. With a recent Supreme Court win under our belts, we are in a better position to expand access in our state, but the infrastructure for abortion care is still not meeting the needs of our communities by a long shot. With fewer than 20 clinics left to serve our entire state of Texas, and with Texas refusing to use its own state funding for abortion, the Hyde Amendment is yet another barrier to access that disproportionately harms Lilith Fund’s clients, who are primarily low-income Medicaid recipients, under- or un-insured folks. Hyde hurts our clients and their families because it forces them to pay out of pocket for a procedure that should be recognized by our government as not only a basic human right, but a basic form of medical care that Texans of all socioeconomic backgrounds depend on.”
“As an abortion fund in Upstate New York serving four counties that border Pennsylvania, we are grateful that our state opts to cover abortion for New Yorkers insured through Medicaid. Yet we know from serving our Pennsylvanian clients and our NY clients who don’t have coverage that there is much more work to be done. Restoring insurance coverage of abortion is critical to ensuring our patients are able to fairly make their own personal health decisions.”
“Hyde results in too many Wyoming women either struggling to get or simply not getting the health care coverage they need. Hyde must be abolished to provide more equitable medical care and reduce the cycle of intergenerational poverty that traps too many Wyoming families.”
“People in Texas are facing a lot of barriers to abortion, and the Hyde Amendment is just one of those barriers. Despite a Supreme Court win, we’re still living with the 2013 clinic closures caused by HB2, and even if Hyde were repealed tomorrow thousands of Texans would be without coverage because our state has refused to expand Medicaid and undocumented people cannot access healthcare coverage. But removing Hyde would be a powerful step toward complete reproductive justice nonetheless. Removing Hyde would make a statement that abortion is healthcare; abortion is a human right. Hyde is discriminatory policy — if we as a society are committed to ending discrimination, we must be committed to ending Hyde.”
“The EMA Fund operates in a state with Medicaid funding for abortion, but for many of our callers the cost of an abortion is still too high when paying out of pocket or with health insurance. Some callers are able to access public funding for abortion despite having health insurance, but many others are still required to meet their insurance deductibles or pay out of pocket. The EMA Fund is also piloting funding in New Hampshire, a state without both public funding for abortion and an abortion fund. In a world without Hyde and other public funding restrictions, the EMA Fund could continue to focus on funding for Massachusetts-based callers whose insurance deductibles keep abortion unaffordable. Additionally, we could expand our New Hampshire funding or work with New Hampshire-based reproductive justice activists to set up a new fund that would have more resources.”
“Emergency Medical Assistance provide funds to clients based in South Florida. With the Hyde Amendment, Congress singles out women who are already struggling to make ends meet by limiting their access to a legal reproductive health care procedure. The Zika virus outbreak in Florida really brings this home. If you have private health insurance and financial resources, you will be able to decide with your family whether to carry the pregnancy to term or have an abortion. For those without private coverage, they simply do not have the same choices. And mosquitoes don’t ask if you have health coverage before they bite you.”
“Serving the Northwest, The CAIR Project has seen how the Hyde Amendment harms people in both red states and blue states. Half our abortion funding goes to Idaho, because Idaho politicians withhold coverage of abortion care from both public and private health plans (unless a person pays a separate, abortion-only monthly premium). And because the tentacles of Hyde have crept into other federally funded health programs–standing in the way of abortion coverage for federal employees, people using Indian Health Service (IHS), and people serving in the military–coverage bans also hurt people in states where Medicaid covers abortion, like Washington. Washington has 29 federally recognized tribes, and ranks 7th in the nation for states with the most active duty and reserve members of the military. Current coverage bans mean that our hotline gets a lot of calls from servicewomen and the wives of servicemen. These bans are unacceptable and cruel. They interfere with people’s personal decisions, and force harsh choices like paying for the medical care or paying rent. It’s long past time to restore coverage of abortion care.”
The New Orleans Abortion Fund serves women from throughout the Gulf Coast who are seeking abortions at two of Louisiana’s four remaining clinics and cannot afford the full cost of the procedure. Louisiana recently expanded Medicaid coverage, giving its citizens access to critical physical and mental health care. However, political gamesmanship, geographic barriers, and economic inequality keep abortion – an essential part of reproductive health – out of reach for many Louisianans. Lifting the Hyde Amendment would help to ensure that Louisiana residents who depend on Medicaid, as well as other programs for health care, have access to the full spectrum of essential care.