The Hyde Amendment: 35 Years Of Discriminating Against Poor Women


This month marks the 35th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, the federal law which bans Medicaid coverage of abortions with few exceptions. What started out as a extreme position against a woman’s right to chose has, with devastating consequence, become the default position when arguing abortion access in this country.

For starters, the ability to “chose” to cover abortions or not in the public sector became transplanted in the private sector with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

But if you place the Hyde Amendment, and its repugnant attitude toward poor women, in the context of recent census data that shows the United States with the highest number people living in poverty since 1954 and a doubling of unintended pregnancies among poor women and you have an emerging crisis.

A poor woman is five times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy than her higher-income counterpart regardless of education, race, ethnicity, marital status or age. More than two-thirds of women who have an abortion are economically disadvantaged. Four in ten children will grow up in poverty in a single-mother household.

Thanks to the Hyde Amendment, those women must divert scarce and precious resources away from supporting themselves to pay for abortion care.

Denying access to abortion doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it more expensive in addition to more dangerous. The Hyde Amendment’s blatant discrimination against poor women — simply for being poor — not only violates our core values of fairness and equality, but it demonstrates a disregard for women that can’t simply be explained away by being “uncomfortable” with abortion.

Abortion rights and access is about self-determination, the freedom from government interference in health care decisions. And for 35 years the Hyde Amendment has signaled to women that self-determination is a right afforded only to the wealthy. With the number of women sliding into poverty showing no sign of slowing, this is a reality that does not bode well for women.


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Photo from infowidget via flickr.

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Kate G.
Kate G.3 years ago

Amy D, you are what is wrong with our country.

Rosemary G.
Rosemary G.4 years ago

Kris we don't need your definition of abortion..I really think everybody knows.
The trouble is that as long as organized religion will meddle with the body of women, we will have that problem..
Stay out of my private life! A woman's body should be hers and not others who think otherwise..
To all you religious zealots, get a life and live your life and meddle with your life.
We all pay taxes for wars we don't want and we should support women especially poor women and educate them and teach them about their rights..They don't need to be pushed down and victimized even more..
Have you ever talked to the children who were unwanted and unloved?There are plenty of jailbirds among them. Prevention is the key.

Shannon G.
Shannon G.4 years ago

I dont get your comment, access to abortion is free, the procedure is not. Nothing is free by the way, someone is going to pay for it.

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

Until access to abortion is free to all women, we'll all be trapped in this vicious circle of poverty.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Which is why I wanted to clarify your objections....."keeping your uterus away from my wallet." Sorry but, although it's not specifically mentioned, Planned Parenthood IS a major target of this kind of legislation. The anti-choice mob is determined to do away with it.

Kris G.
Kris G.4 years ago

Um, if nobody wants taxpayer funds to go toward abortions, than what's this about getting rid of the Hyde Amendment? Planned Parenthood is not mentioned in this article, so don't pretend that this is the issue here. And there is a big difference between contraceptives and abortion. This article is about abortions being paid for by taxpayer dollars. Abortions, not contraceptives.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

PS...or are you suggesting that our taxes shouldn't help fund low-cost contraceptives for poor women?

Because THAT is the most ludicrous idea possible! Helping to provide contraceptives to EVERYONE who needs them makes perfect sense. Would you rather help provide contraceptives or welfare for children who are hungry?

Or do you object to that, too?

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Exactly! Kris, legislation already prohibits federal money being used to fund abortion! Don't believe the anti-choice mob who say anything else! This is about closing down Planned Parenthood--an organization which provides health services to millions of men AND women. It's mean-spirited, hate-driven and anti-health.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

Kris no one is after your wallet. this is a red herring. Your taxes are not paying for abortions.

Kris G.
Kris G.4 years ago

Your body, your business, your money. Keep your uterus the hell away from my wallet.