September 30 marked the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which denies women coverage for abortion if they receive insurance through the government, with limited exceptions. This impacts not only those who have Medicaid insurance, but also those who are insured through the Indian Health Service, serve in the military or the Peace Corps, or hold federal government jobs.
As physicians, we believe a woman’s health insurance should cover all of her health care needs, no matter what coverage she has or what income she makes. We want her to be able to make the best possible decisions or herself and her family. Currently, the Hyde Amendment creates unjust barriers for those struggling to get by and interferes with their ability to determine the best health care option for themselves and their families. This arcane legislation also creates a patchwork of abortion access across the country, as Dr. Lin Wang points out, because only 17 states offer abortion coverage through state-sponsored Medicaid. In 2015 in the United States, abortion access should not be dictated by zip code.
“There are certain patients whose stories stay with me,” says our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta. “I think of the mother with two children under four, who was also putting herself through school and working full time. She was sacrificing so much to build a happy future for her family–and when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant, she knew a third child would make that future tenuous; the cost of childcare alone would have been financially impossible for her.
“I also think about the woman who was living in her car with her boyfriend when she came to my office. Or the one who could barely make it to her appointment because she had to borrow her friend’s unreliable car, as she lacked one of her own, and lived in a very rural part of the county.
“It’s outrageous that politicians would presume that someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, who would struggle to collect funds for an abortion, would somehow be able to financially and emotionally support a child. The truth is that none of us, including the legislators that continue to uphold the Hyde Amendment, knows what a woman is going through in this situation. However, when Medicaid covers prenatal care but denies coverage for abortion, that takes away a woman’s ability to make important, personal decisions based on what is best for her individual circumstances.”
Because Physicians opposes abortion coverage restrictions of any kind, we have added our name to the groundswell of voices who support All Above All’s mission to “make Hyde history.”
Watch Dr. Gupta’s call to action in the video above, and watch the All Above All video here.