Pro-choice movement (finally) gets proactive on demanding end to funding bans on abortion

Crossposted from

all above all

When President Obama got elected in 2008 and Democrats took over both chambers of Congress I entertained the faint hope that they would overturn the Hyde Amendment. Naturally, I felt it was highly unlikely as the recession needed to be dealt with immediately (and that sense only deepened when Republicans pitched a fit over the stimulus possibly funding birth control programs). The President was also fully in his “post-partisan” honeymoon phase, where he was trying very hard to demonstrate to the country and to the Republicans in Congress that he wanted to work across the aisle. That President Obama would not have signed a repeal of the Hyde Amendment under the slight possibility that such a bill would have gotten a cloture vote through the Blue Dogs in the Senate and reached his desk was a given in my mind. The Affordable Care Act – the most significant reform that was passed by the 2009/10 Congress – needed to have a provision reifying the Hyde Amendment to get enough votes from anti-choice Democrats.

Now that President Obama is a lame duck and clearly done with GOP bullshit, I wonder if this bill just introduced in the House would have a fighting chance if Democrats controlled both houses. Per PRWeb:

Washington, DC (PRWEB) July 08, 2015
Today Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and 61 other Congressional co-sponsors, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. The bill would ensure health coverage for abortion for every woman however much she earns or however she is insured. The bill is backed by 36 national and state organizations united under the campaign All* Above All.

“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America – today, we push back because every person has a right to healthcare. The EACH Woman Act is a bold and groundbreaking step forward. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her healthcare options, regardless of how much money she earns or where she lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Regardless of how someone personally feels about abortion, none of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decision just because she is poor.”

“The passage of the EACH Woman Act would stop the terrible wrongs of the Hyde Amendment, which, for 37 years, have fallen hardest on people of color, low-income, and youth,” said Yamani Hernandez, Executive Director, National Network of Abortion Funds. “We applaud the bold vision of Representative Lee and the bill’s co-sponsors.”…(more at the link)

The All Above All cites a poll they commissioned that found that when Americans are asked the questions in the right way, they respond favorably to covering low-income women’s abortion care in the same way that their other reproductive health needs are covered under Medicaid. They state right up front that they over-sample young Americans, but you can see in the age breakdowns that older groups strongly support Medicaid coverage of abortion. This flies in the face of the standard line anti-choice groups are feeding us about how insurance coverage and taxpayer funding bans are popular and “commonsense”.

The bold move on the part of pro-choice Representatives to repeal Hyde and this poll speak to the need to challenge accepted “moderate” narratives on abortion. Many people describe themselves as pro-choice but uncomfortable with abortion after the first trimester. I get that, but it’s necessary to understand that abortions that occur after that point (about 13 weeks) that are not due to pregnancy complications often result from the inability of the woman to raise funds combined with various educational and physical access barriers (that can have devastating economic impacts on poor women) to obtaining an earlier procedure erected by anti-choice lawmakers. Thus, it’s not logically and ethically tenable to oppose second term abortions (but not earlier) while also blanching at insurance or Medicaid coverage of earlier procedures.

Happily, the All Above All poll indicates that the public understands this, when it is presented to them in the correct terms, a lot better than anti-abortion advocates would have everyone believe.