Reproductive justice requires that all women and girls have the power and resources to make decisions about their bodies, lives, families, and communities.
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has violated these human rights by forbidding public funding of abortion - and thus, effectively denying the right to abortion to thousands and thousands of poor women. Because of the Hyde Amendment, women across the U.S. struggle to raise money to cover the cost of abortion. They often sacrifice food and other necessities and delay paying rent and utilities. Too often, they can't raise enough money and they are unable to obtain an abortion.
In 1973, after Roe v. Wade, low-income women who received health care through Medicaid were covered for abortions. Federal Medicaid paid for almost half of all abortions performed in the United States (270,000 abortions out of a total of 615,800 performed). But just three years later, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid coverage of abortion. Since that time, federal Medicaid has covered virtually no abortions.
As Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall noted in 1980, in his dissent to the Court's decision upholding the Hyde Amendment, "[F]or women eligible for Medicaid - poor women - denial of a Medicaid-funded abortion is equivalent to denial of legal abortion altogether. By definition, these women do not have the money to pay for an abortion themselves."
Most states have also banned state Medicaid funding for abortion, and Congress has severely restricted abortion funding in virtually every federal program, including health programs for military personnel and their families, disabled women, federal prisoners, and women receiving care from Indian Health Services. For the more than 12 million women who depend on Medicaid and other federal programs, the impact of the Hyde Amendment and state funding bans is staggering. It is estimated that as many as one in three low-income women who would have an abortion if it were covered by Medicaid are instead compelled to continue the pregnancy.
Because of racialized poverty in the U.S., women of color disproportionately rely on public sources of health care; so the denial of Medicaid funding impacts these women most heavily. The fight to restore Medicaid coverage is an important matter of racial justice, as well as economic justice and women's rights.
The National Network of Abortion Funds, an association of 109 grassroots groups that help low-income women to pay for abortions, has joined with allies nationwide to launch the Hyde - 30 Years is Enough! Campaign. The campaign is fighting for expanded public funding of abortion on the state level, repeal of the Hyde Amendment, adequate support for low-income women to care for their children and families with dignity, and social justice for all. The Hyde - 30 Years is Enough! Coalition includes groups working on reproductive rights, health care access, prisoner rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, social justice and human rights. Participating organizations and campaign activities across the U.S. are at www.hyde30years.nnaf.org.
- "Abortion Funding: A Matter of Justice," National Network of Abortion Funds, 2005 at www.nnaf.org
- "Rights without Access: Revisiting Public Funding of Abortion for Poor Women," The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, April 2000, www.guttmacher.org