1 Million Poor Women Deprived by Hyde Amendment

About a year ago, I began researching a report for the Center for Reproductive Rights on the damaging impact of the Hyde Amendment. Hyde has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortions for 34 years, which has prevented more than a million poor women from exercising their reproductive rights. 

TAKE ACTION: Don’t Make Anti-Choice Policy Permanent!

The Center wanted to get the real stories of women affected by Hyde so we joined with the National Network of Abortion Funds to interview women across the country personally affected by this dangerous policy. 

Today, we’ve released the report, WHOSE CHOICE? How the Hyde Amendment Harms Poor Women, and a short video laying out 34 years of Hyde’s negative impact on women.  

One story in the report is from a disabled veteran of the Iraq war struggling as a single mother. While trying to raise the necessary funds, she was forced to delay her abortion for more than six weeks and had to cancel several appointments — all while the cost of the procedure continued to increase.

Another is about a mother of three who lost her job while pregnant, and said she knew she “couldn’t afford a baby” given her financial circumstances but had “mixed feelings” about getting an abortion. In addition to borrowing money from her sisters and receiving assistance from an abortion fund, she had to delay paying some of her bills in order to pay for her abortion.

These stories of financial and emotional hardship are heartbreaking. Moreover, even women who should qualify for an abortion under Hyde’s very limited exceptions often struggle to obtain coverage and are denied funding. 

This is only a snapshot of the harm inflicted by Hyde, which will likely be expanded if anti-choice members of Congress have their way. Right now, a bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is quietly circulating through Congress seeking to permanently ban all federal funding for abortions. But that’s not where it stops. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” also effectively eliminates abortion coverage in the private insurance market nationwide and could undermine women’s access to life-saving emergency abortions at state and local public hospitals.

This bill already has more than 170 co-sponsors and is picking up traction in the House.  We need to stop its progress immediately.  You can help us put the brakes on the “No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion Act” by writing your Members of Congress today. 

After working on this report, I can’t help but be personally affected by the terrible toll Hyde has taken on women and families. Too many have been made to suffer from this unjust, coercive, and discriminatory policy. But the stories in this report are also testimony to women’s survival, ingenuity, and bravery.  They remind us that a woman will do everything she can to make a choice that is right for her and her family.  

We cannot stand idly by while politicians tell poor and low-income women that they cannot have a say in their own lives. Please join me in supporting Whose Choice and taking action today.


Karen Leiter is the Human Rights Researcher in the US Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She has more than 15 years of experience working in the US and internationally as a researcher, advocate, educator and policy analyst in the field of health and human rights.

photo credit: thanks to pixxelhunter via flickr
HED: Hyde: The Status Quo Is Not O.K.
by Karen Leiter, Human Rights Researcher for the Center for Reproductive Rights


jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

A woman's body a woman's decision.

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan6 years ago

I have signed and voted.

Charles Wallace
Charles Wallace6 years ago

Martha Pendino: "Don't give me a sob story. Pregnancy is preventable." "Use a condom!"

I guess you don't want any facts, either, Martha. Because the fact is that NO method of birth control is 100% effective. There have even been cases where vasectomies and tubal ligations have spontaneously reversed, leading to unwanted pregnancies. "Pregnancy is preventable"? Not 100%, not in the real world. Not unless one is totally celibate. Which I'm sure is what most of you anti-choice people REALLY want. Well, guess what, car wrecks are 100% preventable, too, if one never gets into a car. Since you want to deny woman medical treatment to deal with an unintended conseqence of sexual activity (pregnancy), then why don't we also deny car wreck victims medical treatment for dealing with an unintended consequence of driving? Don't give me a sob story. They KNEW there was a chance of a wreck when they got into their cars. They need to accept responsibility for their actions, and just bleed quietly in the road. They shouldn't have got into the wreck in the first place, if they didn't want one, or can't afford it.

Martha Pendino
Past Member 6 years ago

If you don't want a child or can't afford one why did you get pregnant in the first place? Don't give me a sob story. Pregnancy is preventable. Take responsibility for your own behavior. It is truly the only thing you can control. The tone of this article is sickening. Survival? Ingenuity? Bravery? Please! Use a condom! And don't give me the song and dance about pregnant rape victims. They are a small percentage of those who require/want abortions. As far as the bill goes let's focus on the facts and stats not the emotional hype.

Charles Wallace
Charles Wallace6 years ago

@Chris L: "You are wrong about Medicare." "You have hospitals that are not taking on Medicare patients. Not all nursing homes accept Medicare."

Chris, you're confusing PROVIDER restrictions with government restrictions. You've cited nothing that indicates the GOVERNMENT restricting which doctors you may see, or which procedures you may have done. There are doctors and hospitals that won't accept certain PRIVATE medical insurance plans (because of excess paperwork, difficulty in getting payments, hassles over whether a certain patient may get a procedure or not, etc.). MY doctor has no problem with Medicare. He prefers it. He gets Medicare payments faster than most insurance payments. He says there is LESS paperwork with Medicare. He's never had Medicare deny a procedure that HE said was called for, while he has to fight constantly with insurance companies to get their OK for things. If it's something they cover, Medicare accepts his medical opinion. Insurance cos., not so much. Your friend is SOL if he wants to go to a doctor who refuses to accept any insurance companies at all (and there are many of THOSE.) My statement stands, Chris.

Chris L.
Chris L.6 years ago

You are wrong about Medicare. I have helped many family members on Medicare and because of the program restrictions, payments, and the excessive paperwork there are fewer and fewer doctors that will see Medicare patients. You have hospitals that are not taking on Medicare patients. Not all nursing homes accept Medicare. I have another elderly relative that has been able to retain his employer based insurance into retirement. He has MUCH GREATER options regarding doctors, hospitals, and care for himself and his wife. So you think patients with government care don't face restrictions? Why do you think so many of us oppose moving to government health programs?

Chris L.
Chris L.6 years ago

Charles you should never assume you know the beliefs of another person. That is a mistake. I have no desire to control a woman's right to choose. Just like I don't want liberals deciding what food I can or cannot eat. That is a Libertarian view. However, I do believe that when you take government money, you become beholden to government rules. You fail to understand that point and that is why a women's right to choose is ALWAYS in question. Not because of people like me. I have no desire to force people to choose or not choose abortion. It is not my right to do either. However, as long as people contine to push for government involvement, people will have the government in their bodies. I want the goverment out and the ONLY way to do that is to remove taxpayer money.

You can believe differently. However, look at the reality. I am not wrong about this issue. The most effective programs in the world are the ones the government cannot interfere with and control.

Chris L.
Chris L.6 years ago

I never said the government should pay for Viagra either. However we were discussing the Hyde ammendment which to my knowledge does not provide free or low cost Viagra to pregnant women. Is PP now handing out free Viagra to men at their clincs as well?

Mike Masley
Michael Masley6 years ago

They want to force you to have the child, caring not about children and their welfare once out of the womb. Read GOP policy. Sickening.

Lionel Mann
Lionel Mann6 years ago

You may attack, mock, scorn, but I have studied and taught history for more than sixty years. The current dissolute pattern of life in the U.S.A. is a sure sign of a degenerate nation on the road to decline. The evidence is already apparent; others saw and declared that many years ago. You are warned. Laugh now; weep later.