The EACH Woman Act Will Make Reproductive Choice A Reality For All Women

Instead of playing defense, as is so often the case, and begging Republicans not to take all of our reproductive rights away, Congressional Democrats are now on the offense, and all in, for abortion coverage for every woman.

Today, a new bill was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), along with 64 congressional co-sponsors that would put an end to the Hyde Amendment that prevents those who rely on government provided health care from obtaining safe and legal abortions. The bill is supported by 36 national and state organizations through the campaign AllAboveAll.

The bill, titled the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act) would “ensure health coverage for abortion for every woman however much she earns or however she is insured.”

“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 Hyde Amendment was introduced after Roe V. Wade and prevents government funds from going towards abortion. Though Henry Hyde and his buddies couldn’t get rid of abortion entirely, they figured they could at least prevent the poor from having them. Because of the Hyde Amendment, Medicaid doesn’t cover abortions–meaning that low income women and trans men don’t have access to them. They are denied the right to control their own bodies, and that is bullshit.

The Hyde Amendment also affects those serving in the armed forces, Native Americans using Indian Health Care facilities, those in our correctional system, those being detained by immigration, and anyone else who relies on government provided health care of any kind.

A press release about the bill states:

Since the passage of the Hyde amendment in 1976, Congress has withheld coverage for abortion services from women insured through the Medicaid program. This restriction has a widespread impact for women across the country as approximately 1 in 6 women of reproductive age (15 to 44) are enrolled in Medicaid. Politicians in 25 states have adopted restrictions that interfere with abortion as a covered health service in the private insurance market, with ten banning coverage in all private plans except in very limited circumstances. And on January 22, 2015 the House again passed H.R. 7, which would codify and expand the Hyde Amendment, apply it to all government spending, and put private insurance coverage of abortion out of reach for most women.

This is absolutely unacceptable, and a majority of Americans agree! In fact, 86% of Americans agree that the government should not be able to restrict a woman’s right to choose simply because she is poor, and 56% say they would support a bill requiring Medicaid to take care of all pregnancy-related care, including abortion.

74% voters agree that “as long as abortion is legal, the amount of money a woman has or does not have should not prevent her from being able to have an abortion.” And this is not just Democrats–because even 62% of Republicans polled agreed with this statement as well.

This should be a no-brainer. We have the backing, we have the public support. As Rep. Schakowsky stated–“Roe v. Wade wasn’t the beginning of abortion–it was the end of women dying from abortions.” And as true as that is for those who can afford it, it’s not true for those who can’t. Those who can’t afford abortions have been known to attempt to harm themselves, or ask others to harm them in order to end a pregnancy. This should never, ever happen. No person should be forced to carry any pregnancy to term against their will. Abortion must be safe, legal and available to all, regardless of economic circumstances.