We trust women to make the best decisions about their health care for their own lives.
Politicians should too. But far too many anti-choice extremists at all levels of government continue to propose laws that restrict a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortion.
A woman’s access to abortion shouldn’t depend on her ZIP code, her health insurance or how much is in her bank account. Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy and the ability to make decisions about her life and her future.
The Hyde Amendment
The Hyde amendment (and related restrictions) is a discriminatory federal policy that restricts access to abortion for women who receive their health care through the government. This far-reaching policy affects many programs, resulting in millions of women being denied insurance coverage for abortion care. They include:
- Women enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare
- Native American women
- U.S. servicewomen and veterans
- Peace Corps volunteers
- Federal employees
- Women who live in Washington, D.C.
- Women in immigration detention facilities and prisons
As Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, the Hyde amendment was “designed to deprive poor and minority women of the constitutional right to choose abortion.” And that’s exactly what this policy does.
By forcing low-income women to carry unintended pregnancies to term or spend a large portion of their income to pay for abortion care, Congress creates more barriers to women lifting themselves out of poverty. Women without abortion coverage are forced to use funds they would spend on necessities such as food and rent to pay for an abortion. In many cases, finding the money to pay for the abortion results in a delay in care, which means the procedure becomes even more expensive.
Doe v. Gomez in Minnesota
Minnesota is one of 17 states which, by law or court order, require Medicaid coverage of abortion care. In 1995, the State Supreme Court ruled on Doe v. Gomez, establishing that state statute banning Medicaid coverage was unconstitutional. So long as state-funded health insurance covers prenatal care and childbirth-related services, it must also cover abortion care. To do otherwise is a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.
Abortion Procedure Bans
In 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Federal Abortion Ban which prohibited the use of intact dilation and extraction (intact D&E). The first federal law to criminalize a safe medical procedure, this ban means doctors may not be able to use the abortion procedure they believe is best for a patient. The ban has no exception to protect a woman’s health and is widely opposed by leading medical groups.
Anti-choice politicians coined the term “partial-birth abortion” in the mid-1990s as a way to stigmatize intact D&Es and the doctors who performed them. The Federal Abortion Ban a decade later was not based in science or medicine; the procedure was relatively rare and equally safe as any abortion procedure used in the second trimester of pregnancy. Rather, the law was the culmination of years of anti-choice propaganda.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Federal Abortion Ban in the 2007 case Gonzales v. Carhart.