The Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory piece of budget legislation passed each year that bans federal funding of abortion. It impacts millions of people in the United States and takes away the legal right to choose abortion, financially coercing people into giving birth because they can’t afford the abortion they need.
When abortion first became legal in 1973, most people had the ability to obtain a legal abortion. The Medicaid program, a federal health care program for low-income people living in the United States, covered abortion just as it did any other medical procedure.
This changed when Congress passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976, adding a budgetary amendment that gets renewed every year as part of our federal budget.
The Hyde Amendment has one job: to restrict insurance from covering abortion care for people who are on Medicaid or who receive their insurance through the federal government. Essentially, people who receive their insurance benefits through the federal government, including federal employees, military service members and veterans, Peace Corps members, and people whose health care access is already disproportionately affected by systemic racism, like those enrolled in Indian Health Services and Medicaid programs, are barred from using their benefits when choosing an abortion. Abortion is the only medical procedure that has ever been banned from Medicaid, even though other reproductive health care needs are covered, including birth control and sterilization. Currently, nearly 1 in 7 women of reproductive age (15-44) are insured through Medicaid.
We’ve seen firsthand how the Hyde Amendment has a disproportionate impact on those of us who are people of color, immigrants, and struggling financially. Representative Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment, intended for this to happen. He said, “I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.”
At the National Network of Abortion Funds, alongside over 70 member organizations in our network, we receive calls every day from folks who can’t cover the cost of an abortion. Because of the Hyde Amendment, many of us sell their belongings, go hungry for weeks as we save up their grocery money, or risk eviction by using our rent money to pay for an abortion.
Some of us never manage to get the money we need to pay for our abortion – which means we’re forced to cope with family situations we didn’t plan for. We will always do the best we can and love our families, but we also deserve to make decisions about if, when, and how to create and grow our families.
So what will it take to overturn the Hyde Amendment? It’ll take all of us working together: talking to our friends and loved ones, testifying to our experiences, calling on Congress, our President, and organizing our communities to finally have the abortion coverage we need. Join the movement right now.
Learn More about the Hyde Amendment
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On October 3, 1977, Rosaura Jiménez died in Texas of an illegal abortion, becoming the first known woman to die because of the Hyde Amendment, which eliminated federal Medicaid funding for abortion. Congress first adopted the Hyde Amendment on September 30, 1976, but it did not go into effect until August 4, 1977. Within just […]
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