Forty years ago this week, the Hyde Amendment denying Medicaid funding for most abortions was passed as part of the federal appropriations process, and has been renewed annually ever since. While fifteen states have opted to use government health insurance funds for abortion, the majority have not.
The real impact of this policy is clear:
Health matters are a serious pocketbook issue for women and their families, and bans on insurance coverage have a disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women. Nearly one in seven women of reproductive age (15-44) is insured through the Medicaid program. Restricting Medicaid funding coverage of pregnancy termination forces one in four poor women to carry an unintended pregnancy to term.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) opposed the Hyde Amendment when it was first enacted, affirming the right of each woman to make decisions concerning her own body and future. Our UUA Statement of Conscience on Reproductive Justice affirmed our commitment to ensuring full access to abortion services, and has guided much of our social justice work over the past several years.
As Unitarian Universalist women, we have remained steadfast in our opposition to this policy. Our values of inherent worth and dignity, justice, equity, and compassion call us to work to overturn economic barriers to reproductive health choices faced by individual women.
The UUWF and 35 other national religious groups and faith-based organizations, including the UUA, have signed and delivered a letter to Congress this week urging members to support the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act. This legislation would end bans that deny abortion coverage to individuals based on their income or insurance. Specifically, the EACH Woman Act would ensure that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for all pregnancy-related care. It would also prohibit interference by federal, state and local legislators in decisions of private insurance companies to offer abortion coverage.
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.