In January 1973, the U.S. Supreme court recognized that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion in the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Ever since, many measures have been taken to limit access to abortion procedures, diminishing the right to choose. One of the most notable and longstanding of these is the Hyde Amendment, which was first passed in 1976 and has been renewed every year since.
The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal money for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger for all federally administered health care plans such as Medicaid, TRICARE, and Indian Health Service. Many people that are have insurance through these plans, particularly Medicaid, are of low income. Thus, the Hyde Amendment largely and disproportionately impacts a low-income women’s right to choose. It is reprehensible that women are denied their right to choose and serve as their own moral agent for their reproductive health simply because they are insured by a federal health care plan.
The Equal Access to Abortion in Health Insurance or EACH Woman Act (H.R. 771) was introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2017 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13). This bill seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment. It would guarantee that every person who receives care or insurance through a federal plan or program will have coverage for abortion.