The Hyde Amendment has been a hot topic for politicians leading up to the 2020 election. Abortion itself if a big topic, but what exactly is the Hyde Amendment? How does it affect abortion? And more importantly, how does it affect you?
What is the Hyde Amendment?
This month marks 43 years since the Hyde Amendment has been in place. On September 30, 1976, the Hyde Amendment was passed in the United States which barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. This meant that taxpayer funds were no longer allowed to assist people seeking abortion. As a result, people that have Medicaid as their insurance, are denied abortion coverage.
Medicaid and CHIP are health insurance programs that are very valuable, because they provide coverage to people that may not have access to other private insurance. CHIP stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program which helps children and pregnant individuals. However, the Hyde Amendment directly affects those who qualify for Medicaid: low-income households, children under 19, pregnant persons, and people with disabilities. As of April 2019, 72.4 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP1.
Who Does it Affect?
Because the Hyde Amendment restricts funding for abortion, there is a direct conflict with the constitutional right for a pregnant person to choose to have an abortion without U.S. government restriction. The Hyde Amendment affects all individuals who receive health insurance benefits from the government. This includes military families, federal government employees, people in federal prison, and Native Americans receiving insurance through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These restrictions have a larger effect on low income individuals, people of color, immigrants, those living in rural areas, and the LGBTQ+ population. This means that these families have to make decisions about either providing for their family or paying for their healthcare. Other laws, both federally and specific to each state, have been enacted to reduce access to abortion further.
The only exception to the Hyde Amendment is in the case of rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is endangered. Despite the fact that the Hyde Amendment is a federally issued regulation, some states choose to deny Medicaid funding even in the case of rape, incest or endangerment of the life of the mother. Consequently, people seeking safe and legal abortion are forced to pay out of pocket. Patients should not be penalized for seeking personal healthcare. Government should let all peoples to exercise their personal freedom to make their own decisions.
The Encouraging Side
The anti-choice Hyde Amendment is only that: an amendment. It was added to a budget bill that must be renewed annually by the government to receive funds. Because Hyde is a “rider” to this bill, Congress can repeal the amendment. This means that every year when we vote, we have the opportunity to change this harmful law. We can advocate for bodily autonomy – the right to make our own healthcare decisions – and fight for this law to be removed.
Many of the Democratic Party candidates for the 2020 election have embraced the idea of ending the Hyde Amendment. Therefore, this issue has gotten a lot of attention; but do our candidates and the public have truthful, informed opinions?
What Can We Do?
It is our responsibility as the public to continue to educate our policy makers, and elected officials. Although these issues are beginning to get attention, it does not guarantee that any changes will happen this election, but it at least brings light to the issues. As our discussion surrounding both the Hyde Amendment and abortion increases, hopefully the issue of abortion will become less stigmatized.
It is possible for you to be part of the change towards reproductive freedom. Your Congress and Legislature representatives must be informed of your opposition to the restrictions set by Hyde and other state restrictions.
Our voices are stronger together. You can help to defeat this harmful law. Our involvement is important to hold our reproductive freedom. You can begin your contribution by visiting the National Abortion Federation for suggestions on how to get involved. Additionally, you can visit the All Above All website and learn more of how to help on the local and state level. All Above All is an organization that advocates for full healthcare coverage for all individuals, which includes abortion access. You can also be a part of the action to #BeBoldEndHyde, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. If you are interested in contacting your elected officials to express your opinion, you can visit the United States government website. On the site, you can find elected officials from your Local, State, and Federal levels.