Widespread Public Support Bolsters Bill to End Restrictions on Abortion Coverage

by Katie Klabusich, Truthout | Report –

abortion we'll never go back

Protesters display a banner in opposition to the anti-abortion “Walk for Life” in San Francisco, California, January 24, 2009. (Photo: Steve Rhodes)

At the very moment that a GOP-lead House subcommittee voted to further punish those in need by slashing $125 billion in federal food assistance funding, three Democratic congresswomen and their 70 congressional cosponsors announced the introduction of legislation this week to end 39 years of discrimination against the poor through abortion funding bans like the Hyde Amendment.

Since 1976, the annually renewed Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal funds to cover abortion care for the one in six women of reproductive age (15 to 44) insured through Medicaid. Hyde, in conjunction with recent laws severely restricting or prohibiting abortion coverage in 25 states, even for some private insurance plans, has led one in four low-income US residents to carry unintended pregnancies to term against their wills.

Reps. Barbara Lee (D-California), Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and the 36 state and national organizations united under the All* Above All campaign announced Wednesday that they are seeking to end this injustice and reverse the recent trend of anti-abortion legislation with the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or EACH Woman Act. The bill extends coverage to Medicaid recipients, and it also restores the constitutional right to abortion for employees of the federal government and their dependents, residents of the District of Columbia, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans, federal prisoners and detainees (including those detained for immigration purposes), and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees.

The EACH Woman Act would nullify existing abortion coverage bans at the state and federal level while preventing future legislation from recreating the disparity in access between low-income people and those with means. Because the policies currently in place disproportionately punish the already disadvantaged, the primary beneficiaries of this first-of-its-kind legislation would be youth, poor residents in rural areas with additional logistical barriers to abortion care, and people of color.

“This legislation would ensure that every woman can access all of her health-care options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives,” Lee said in her statement at Wednesday’s press conference. “Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own health-care decision just because she is poor.”

Public Support for Abortion Access

According to a new poll from Hart Research Associates conducted on behalf of All* Above All, voters in nearly every demographic combination – age, party affiliation, religious background, ethnicity – agree with Lee and would support legislation like the EACH Woman Act.

By a 24-point margin (59 percent to 35 percent), more voters align with the statement: “However we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman insurance coverage for it just because she is poor” than with the statement: “Using taxpayer dollars for abortions forces all of us to pay for them – even people who don’t believe in abortion.”

Flying in the face of ideologically motivated, well-funded legislators and anti-abortion talking heads, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of repealing abortion funding bans or – at the very least – staying out of their neighbors’ business. Double-digit majorities among Democrats (85 percent), Independents (75 percent), and Republicans (62 percent) go even further, agreeing that “as long as abortion is legal, the amount of money a woman has or does not have should not prevent her from being able to have an abortion.”

With such strong support for bodily autonomy and empowerment, it’s striking that funding bans have been added to every federal budget for a generation and signed by presidents of both parties. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois) was up front about the motivation for his amendment the year after it first passed, making its annual reintroduction an indictment on our elected officials and political system up to this point.

“I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman or a poor woman,” Hyde said in 1977. “Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the … Medicaid bill.”

Unable to oppress all people who might need access to an abortion, Hyde and his cohorts settled for punishing the group whose rights are always the first to get traded away: the poor. While those who regularly do without basic needs might be used to seeing their rights on the chopping block, eliminating access to abortion care has the potential to do more than just make someone’s life more difficult or uncomfortable.

read more…..   http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31812-widespread-public-support-bolsters-bill-to-end-restrictions-on-abortion-coverage


Reprinted with permission from Truthout


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