Why now is the time to stop discrimination in abortion access
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, a discriminatory policy that restricts insurance coverage of abortion for low-income families. To turn this dubious milestone into a call for change, NARAL Pro-Choice America has joined forces with reproductive rights organizations across the country to highlight how this anti-choice policy has harmed families in our most vulnerable communities, including low-income women and women of color.
As part of this month-long push, five voices from diverse backgrounds and experiences came together to support repeal of Hyde. Here are their stories:
Alicia Hupprich is passionate about creating awareness around women’s reproductive rights and preserving these freedoms for generations of women to come. She shares her story openly as a way to remove the stigma surrounding abortion.
“My husband has been serving this country for 10 years and in the biggest crisis we’ve faced we were not adequately supported.”
In the spring of 2015, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second baby. When I was 18 weeks pregnant, our family walked into our anatomy scan thinking the biggest piece of information we’d be receiving that day was whether our two-year-old daughter would be having a baby brother or baby sister. Instead, we found out that our sweet baby had calcification building up on her heart, which is a symptom that presents itself in the end stages of heart failure. She was also developing fetal hydrops, a condition where fluid collects around several organs of the body. There was no medicine that could stop it or alleviate her symptoms and there was no surgery to fix it.
The mortality rate for a baby with fetal hydrops and a structural heart defect is over 99%. If our baby did make it to birth, she would struggle to breathe or eat and would repeatedly experience heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and suffocation until one was strong enough to kill her.
We did not want our daughter to be born into a life where she would struggle with immeasurable pain from her first breath to her last. After several ultrasounds and fetal echocardiograms, and after visiting two of the best pediatric facilities in the nation, we knew what we had to do.
Because of the Hyde Amendment, my husband’s military insurance would not pay anything towards our termination for fetal anomaly. Though every doctor mentioned that termination was an option in our severe situation, our doctors would not perform the procedure, and they would not point us in the direction of a safe and legal place to have it done. We had to travel over 250 miles to a clinic that could help us.
I never got to hold or see my baby or give her kisses. Sometimes I hold her footprints up to my cheek knowing her little feet touched this piece of paper or I hold her tiny box of ashes in my arms and sob.
My husband has served this country for 10 years and in the biggest crisis we’ve faced we were not adequately supported. It is not the federal government’s job to make these decisions for women and their families. The Hyde Amendment should be repealed and give women the funding they deserve for the medical care they need.
Renee Bracey Sherman
Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice activist and a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“Any law that disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities cannot stand.”
Too often when our nation discusses the right to an abortion, we forget that there is no right without access. I know how important access is for women of color — I had an abortion when I was 19, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. However, policies like the Hyde Amendment seek to deny that autonomy and right to those enrolled in Medicaid, in the military, incarcerated, and Native American populations in the Indian Health Service. These cruel barriers deeply impact people with fewer financial and logistical means, leaving people with limited incomes, and disproportionately women of color, without a real choice.
The fight for safe, legal, and accessible abortion isn’t just a white woman’s issue — it’s an issue that impacts people of all colors and backgrounds, and race must be central to the conversation. And while we’ve made considerable progress for reproductive freedom, laws like the Hyde Amendment continue to hold us back from a future where all people are truly empowered to make decisions for their own bodies. Any law that disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities cannot stand. I support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment because I support all people who need abortions, not just those who can afford it.
Mary Tobin, is a native of Atlanta, GA, a proud combat Veteran, and a passionate activist dedicated to fighting for equal rights of all military service members.
“What good is a right if it isn’t accessible?”
At the end of the day, it’s simple: I believe in equality — it’s why I fought so proudly for our country as the only woman in my combat arms unit for four years.And believing in equality is believing in a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. That is why I support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
The Hyde Amendment is just another avenue that anti-choice politicians use to obstruct a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion. Lower-income women — many of whom are women of color like myself — get the short end of the stick and all because they don’t have the resources to pay for this right. What good is a right if it isn’t accessible? Your income shouldn’t dictate what reproductive healthcare services you receive, but all too often it does. If equality is truly a pillar that our country represents and embraces, then the repeal of the Hyde Amendment is crucial to upholding our country’s identity.
Adam Briskin-Limehouse lives in the Washington, DC, metro area with his wife and works as a health policy and economics researcher.
“For everyone to be able to pursue their dreams, everyone needs access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, including abortion care.”
From 2008 to 2010, I proudly served as a community health educator in the United States Peace Corps in Suriname, South America. Over my two years of service, I was privileged to mentor several teenagers, boys, and girls. I quickly learned that the boys all wanted to be soccer stars. The girls, however, merely dreamed of staying in school long enough to go to college and resigned themselves to the reality that their dreams could evaporate the instant they found out they were pregnant.
In the region of Suriname where I served, access to abortion and other family planning services was scarce at best. My experience showed me that, in order for everyone to be able to pursue their dreams, everyone needs access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, including abortion care.
The Hyde Amendment restricts access to abortion care to those who already have the means to obtain it. This mean-spirited restriction denies millions of women with Medicaid and Medicare — and the millions more who serve our country, either in the military or in civil service, including Peace Corps — access to abortion care. It means they have to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket to obtain abortion care or defer their dreams with an unplanned pregnancy. Everyone should get the chance to live the life they’ve dreamed of. Access to safe and affordable abortion care is a vital part of family planning that creates that opportunity. The Hyde Amendment must end.
Emyhy Corpus has lived in America for 15 years after emigrating from Tepic, Mexico. She now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Unfortunately, for many immigrants, the right to choose abortion is still out of reach.”
In Mexico, abortion is illegal under most circumstances. Because of that, women would take matters into their own hands — sometimes even overdosing on medication or taking illegal medications so they could receive an abortion recommendation from a doctor.
In Mexico, there is a lot of shame associated with women who get abortions and most people won’t talk about it. I am glad I now live in a country where women have the right to choose. But unfortunately for many immigrants, the right to choose abortion is still out of reach due to cost concerns. That’s why repealing the Hyde Amendment is so important. It would be a great relief to women who need access to abortion but cannot afford it. Many immigrants cannot afford private insurance coverage and, in some cases, even the very concept is foreign to them. Expanding access under federal programs would be incredibly helpful for these low-income families, who have just as much need for high-quality healthcare as any other American family.