The Hyde Amendment turns 35 today.
The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1977 to prevent federal money, through the Medicaid program, from being used for abortion services. It has been used as justification for restricting abortion access ever since.
Recently state and local city governments have even been restricting state and local money from being used for abortion services, especially in government employee health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act was nearly abandoned because of debate over inclusion of abortion services in the state exchange programs, and was only passed when such provisions were removed. Planned Parenthoods and other family planning services have been defunded because of their association with abortion and a false connection to taxpayer money. This past spring in the US Congress anti-choice politicians talked at great length about not allowing abortions to be provided with federal funding and thus the need to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the Hyde Amendment already being in effect. North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx even tried to bar federal and state money from going to state programs to teach medical students how to perform abortions.
The Hyde Amendment overwhelmingly disadvantages poor women. It seems counter-productive to limit who can have an abortion to people who can afford it. Anyone who cannot afford an abortion certainly cannot afford to have a healthy pregnancy or raise the child they will have. It is equally counter-productive to cut family planning services as well. Meanwhile, states everywhere are cutting family oriented social services like Head Start and Medicaid to reduce the budget, further disadvantaging children born into lower-income households. The Hyde Amendment is a huge barrier for poor women seeking abortion and needs to be repealed for the health and wellbeing of poor families everywhere.
Abortion is the only moral issue where there is a conscience clause for taxpayer money. Unfortunately, those of us who do believe in the right to abortion services can’t check a little box to send our taxes to support family planning and abortion services. Doesn’t matter whatever else the government sends money to that we morally disagree with, like crisis pregnancy centers or abstinence-only sex education. But there are way to get involved to repeal Hyde or to support the women disadvantaged by Hyde.
The National Network of Abortion Funds has a great petition to sign. You can spread the word on twitter with the hastag #HydeAt35. You can donate money to help lower-income women get the abortions they need, or you can donate to another abortion fund that exists in your city or state. Or you can write a Letter to the Editor.