Historic Bill Would End Penalties on Low-Income Women Seeking Safe, Legal Abortion
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), along with nearly 70 other co-sponsors, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act. The EACH Woman Act seeks to end restrictions on abortion coverage in public and private health care programs. By lifting abortion coverage restrictions, such as the Hyde Amendment, the EACH Woman Act would ensure that each woman – no matter where she lives, her income level, or insurance coverage – can make her own decisions about her own pregnancy and get the care she needs.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards joined the bill's sponsors and members of the All* Above All coalition today at a press conference to announce the introduction of the bill on Capitol Hill. You can follow the conversation online using the hashtags #4EACHofUs and #BeBoldEndHyde.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in support of the EACH Woman Act:
"This historic bill would help ensure every woman has access to safe, legal abortion -- regardless of her income or insurance provider.
"For far too long, this country has penalized low-income women seeking abortion --- forcing those who have the least to pay the most in order to access safe, legal care. The EACH Woman Act is our chance to right that wrong, and allow every woman -- no matter where she lives or how much money she makes or who provides her health insurance -- to access the health care she needs.
"We thank Representatives Barbara Lee, Diana DeGette, Jan Schakowsky and their allies in Congress for their tireless efforts to ensure women are able to make their own personal health care decisions without political interference. For 40 years, the majority of Americans have been saying that abortion should be safe and legal. And that means it should be safe and legal for everyone – not only for those who can afford it."
When policymakers deny women insurance coverage for abortion, they either are forced to carry the pregnancy to term or pay for care out of their own pockets. Consequently, cutting off access to or placing strict limitations on abortion can have profoundly harmful effects on public health, particularly for those who already face significant barriers to receiving high-quality care, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young women, and women of color.
Studies show that when policymakers place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking an abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
When a woman is living paycheck to paycheck, denying coverage for an abortion can push her deeper into poverty. Indeed, studies show that a woman who seeks an abortion but is denied is more likely to fall into poverty than one who is able to get an abortion.
Women with lower socioeconomic status -- specifically those who are least able to afford out-of-pocket medical expenses -- already experience disproportionately high rates of adverse health conditions. Denying access to abortion care only exacerbates existing health disparities.
Due to a number of underlying reasons connected to inequity, women of color are more likely to qualify for government insurance programs that restrict abortion coverage and are more likely to experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy.
BACKGROUND on the EACH Woman Act:
The EACH Woman Act makes a meaningful policy change for women and their families, creating two important standards for reproductive health:
- First, it sets up the federal government as a standard-bearer, ensuring that every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services.
- Second, it prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Federal, state and local legislators will not be able to interfere with the private insurance market, including the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.
Since the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976, anti-women's health politicians have added abortion coverage and funding restrictions to appropriations language, impacting the following women across the United States:
Medicaid, Medicare and Children's Health Insurance Program enrollees
- According to the most recent data, approximately 1 in 6 women of reproductive age (15-44) are enrolled in Medicaid, a number not reflective of the many women who now have health insurance due to Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act.
Federal employees and their dependents
- More than a million women are federal employees. This number does not include reproductive-age dependents also covered by Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Roughly 1.1 million women of reproductive age are covered by TRICARE or other forms of military health care.
Peace Corps volunteers
- About 4,300 Peace Corps volunteers are women, most of whom are single and young.
- Indian Health Services provide care for nearly 1 million women.
Women in federal prisons and detention centers, including those detained for immigration purposes
- More than 12,000 women are housed in federal prisons, approximately 80 percent of whom are aged 18-44.
Low-income women in the District of Columbia.
- Twenty-five states have enacted restrictions that interfere with abortion as a covered health service in the private insurance market. Additionally, 21 states restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans available for public employees, and 10 states have laws barring insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans written in the state. You can learn about statewide restrictions HERE.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
July 08, 2015