EACH Woman Act Aims to Restore Access to Abortion
By Laila Khalili
Photo by John Nelson, courtesy of All* Above All
Last week, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Diana DeGette (D-CO), proposed the groundbreaking Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or the EACH Woman Act.
The EACH Woman Act would overturn the Hyde Amendment, which was adopted shortly after Roe v. Wade in 1976 and bans the use of Medicaid funds for abortion. It would also repeal laws in 25 states that prohibit private insurers from covering abortion care.
After Roe, legislators like Henry Hyde couldn’t ban abortion outright. Therefore, they decided to limit who could access abortion by taking away funding for it. These legislators understood that without access, there is no choice. They knew they would be preventing poor people from accessing a constitutionally protected medical procedure. This is what the EACH Woman Act seeks to stop; truly making Roe the law of the land.
This is the first time congress members have brought forth comprehensive legislation to restore insurance coverage for abortion, instead of simply trying to fight off bills that further restrict access to reproductive health care.
In a statement on Facebook, Rep. Barbara Lee wrote, “I introduced a bill so every woman, no matter her income, can make the reproductive health decisions that are right for herself and her family.”
The EACH Woman Act has already been co-sponsored by 70 members in the House- including Texas’ own Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke-and would ensure that any person with health insurance through the federal government would have access to abortion care, regardless of their zip code or income.
Currently, if you’re too poor to afford an abortion or have insurance in a state that strictly restricts abortion coverage, people either don’t get an abortion or they find another way to get one, oftentimes finding dangerous means to do so.
Banning abortion coverage through Medicaid has not made abortion disappear. As Rep. Schakowsky stated, “Roe v. Wade wasn’t the beginning of abortion–it was the end of women dying from abortions.” Rather, it was supposed to be.
Restrictions on safe abortion have become widespread across the US, leaving millions of people with insurmountable barriers to care, disproportionately affecting women of color and low income women.
“Latinas and other women of color are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy and less likely to pay for an abortion out of pocket,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in four women who are on Medicaid and cannot afford an abortion are forced to carry their pregnancy to term. Those who are unable to access abortion care are three times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can afford it.
For those who argue that most people do not want taxpayer dollars to go towards abortion care, the data says otherwise.
A survey conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 56% of voters “support a bill that would require Medicaid to cover all pregnancy-related care, including abortion.”
The survey also concluded that three in four voters, including 62% of Republicans, agreed 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.”
The EACH Woman Act reflects not only the policy changes voters would like to see, but also make access to reproductive health care a reality for millions of people and allow them to take control of their future.
“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America – today, we push back because every person has a right to health care. This legislation would ensure that every woman can access ALL of her health care 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 health care decision just because she is poor.”