Jessica González Rojas, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, introduces the Congresswomen. Photo by Renee Bracey Sherman.

It’s about damn time to #BeBoldEndHyde

Three Congresswomen announced today that they’re introducing a bill designed to circumvent the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, the policy which has prevented the use of federal funds — like Medicaid — to pay for abortions, with very few exceptions, for almost 40 years. 

Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act would restore abortion coverage to women on Medicaid and other government-managed health insurance programs like Tricare, which covers people in the Armed Services and their family members, as well as people covered by the Indian Health Service, and anyone in the Peace Corps or in a federal government job. That is a hell of a lot of people. One in six women of reproductive age are enrolled in Medicaid alone.

It would thereby override Hyde, which has been in place almost as long as Roe (indeed, it was put in place as a response to Roe) and has effectively denied many low-income women, young women, and women of color access to abortion. It would also, according to the National Partnership For Women and Families, “put an end to laws that keep health insurers in the private marketplace from covering abortion care, removing unnecessary barriers to the full range of reproductive health care services.”

Dr. Willie Parker, Chair-Elect of Physicians for Reproductive Health (and a goddamn hero — have you read this profile of him?) gave the legislation his full-throated support:

When a woman faces an unintended pregnancy, she needs to have access to all her options. The amount of money that she makes or how she is insured shouldn’t limit her decision-making ability. A woman’s health insurance should meet ALL her needs, regardless of how she gets her insurance, where she lives, or how little money she has. She needs to make the decision that is right for her and her family without government interference.

I provide abortion care in the South, home to some of the poorest Americans. The women I see, many of whom have Medicaid insurance, are denied coverage for their abortion care. They are often living paycheck to paycheck and the cost of an abortion only pushes them deeper into poverty. Daily, we see patients, many of whom are already mothers, who need to sell their belongings or skip rent payments in order to afford their care.

The Hyde Amendment reminds me of the cruel jest that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of when citing conservative opponents’ admonishment that people pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but deny them the resources to get boots. As a doctor, it is my duty to provide women with high quality compassionate care and without insurance, they can’t always afford to make it to my clinic.

Kudos to the activists and organizations who recognized it was long-past time to go on the offensive on Hyde and push for this legislation. For the next 24 hours, you can watch a video of the announcement here, courtesy of Fusion‘s Latoya Peterson.

Header image credit: Renee Bracey Sherman

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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