The National Network of Abortion Funds applauds the Honorable Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) as she reintroduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act for the 115th Congress. We are thrilled to see bold leadership bucking the trend and fighting for abortion access as anti-choice legislators are pushing to ban abortion altogether. The EACH Woman Act guarantees that every person who receives their health insurance through the federal government will be covered for all pregnancy-related care, including abortion. On a state and local level, the bill ensures that politicians will not be able to interfere with or prevent private insurance companies from making the decision to cover abortion care.
Five years of data from the National Network of Abortion Funds George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund shows that the Hyde Amendment and other abortion restrictions increase cost, delays, and distances traveled for people seeking abortions, and these barriers are hitting people of color, people with multiple children, single parents, and people with low incomes especially hard. Some cities and counties have passed resolutions against Hyde to ease the burden on their residents, including Boston and Cambridge, MA; Cook County, IL; Ithaca, NY; Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA; Madison, WI; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Seattle, WA; and Travis County, TX.
The EACH Woman Act puts forth these two basic standards for reproductive health as a challenge to the Hyde Amendment, a 40 year old policy banning the use of federal funds to pay for, or to subsidize private insurance coverage of abortions. The reintroduction of the EACH Woman Act comes a week after the House of Representatives voted 238-183 to pass H.R. 7 which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent and bar ACA state marketplace private insurance plans from covering abortions, and the President signed the Global Gag Rule which bars all international health organizations receiving funding from the United States from performing, counseling on, or referring to abortion services. The EACH Woman Act is a courageous piece of legislation in a sea of anti-choice, anti-science, and racist policies threatening to ban abortion, including as early as six weeks.
The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), has been working for over two decades to make safe, legal abortion accessible to all, no matter their income or zip code. NNAF is proud to be a co-sponsor of the EACH Woman Act, partnering with All* Above All in their campaign efforts to turn passive supporters into active co-sponsors.
Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, speaks from experience:
“One of the primary reasons abortion funds exist and a major barrier to justice for the communities we serve is the Hyde Amendment, a violent piece of legislation that prevents people who are enrolled in Medicaid from accessing the healthcare we need and denies us full control over their lives and futures.
More than half of our callers are from the South, nearly half are African-American, and a large proportion are already parents. We’re also seeing an increase in second trimester abortions, which indicates that people are encountering serious obstacles to getting immediate abortion care, and these delays are more expensive and more intrusive. The people who call us for funding strengthen our resolve to end all bans on abortion coverage and other restrictions that make our work necessary in the first place.
During these tumultuous political times—during which we so often find ourselves playing defense—the abortion access movement is surging forward, bravely pushing policies that not only repeal insidious legislation such as the Hyde Amendment, but that firmly ensure that it is a right of each person to be able to decide when and whether to have a family. Allowing Draconian legislation like the Hyde Amendment to remain the status quo is not an option. This is why a broad policy initiative, like the EWA, is so crucial.”
As funders of abortion, NNAF and its membership, which now consists of both organizations and individuals, are all too familiar with the lasting negative impacts barriers to abortion access have on people and their families. Every day, we hear from callers who must sacrifice groceries, forgo paying rent, or take unplanned time off work simply to get the procedure, and from many who are unable to afford the procedure at all and must carry their pregnancy to term.
Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and Texas native, knows the effects of these barriers all too well:
“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 uninsured 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.”
Abortion funders, many of whom are volunteers, answer the calls from those in need of financial and logistical assistance, and they fundraise and advocate and talk about Hyde with their loved ones. The direct experiences of our membership—many of whom have also had abortions themselves—bear witness to the fact that lack of access to abortion is a grave injustice. They are answering a crisis in their communities; they deserve to be listened to, and it’s absolutely because of the non-stop, impassioned work of member funds, their communities allies, and those seeking abortions that Hyde is part of the political conversation today. That’s why we’re seeing extremist, unethical bills like H.R. 7 surface immediately at the start of the new administration—anti-abortion politicians have seen what we can do and will stop at nothing to make sure people of color and people with low incomes are denied access to the same services that others can afford. Our reproductive rights should never be the first bargaining chip on the table when things get rough.
By supporting the EACH Woman Act, we are proclaiming that will not rest idle as we find ourselves mired in the most brutally hostile anti-abortion political climate the United States has ever seen. Rather, we will strike out on the offense to ensure that all people are able to access the abortion care they are so clearly entitled to. And that we will stop at nothing to ensure that this basic human right is not just a reality in theory, but a reality in practice. We are not going anywhere. We will continue to resist. We hope you will join us.