The Abortion Bill You Won't Believe You Haven't Heard Of

“I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle-class woman or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.” - Representative Henry Hyde, 1977

It’s more likely than not that you’ve never even heard of the Hyde Amendment, but this major piece of abortion legislation could control your future. Enacted in 1976 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1980, the Hyde Amendment rules that zero federal dollars can be spent to fund abortion, unless the case is deemed to be a result of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is threatened. This means that all abortions have to be funded by the insurance carriers (which are banned from funding abortion in some states) or out of pocket. After making potentially one of the most difficult decisions of their life, the person who has just undergone an abortion has to face the bill, whether or not they have the means.

On the Planned Parenthood website, they cite two price ranges: an in-clinic abortion costing up to $1,500 or an abortion pill that costs up to $800. That’s right, abortion is in about the same price range as a 1990s car with 199,999 miles being sold on Craigslist. What does this mean for the 42% of women in dire financial straits? Maybe they couldn’t afford access to birth control, or are in abusive relationships, particularly ones where they aren’t given any financial control. These women are now faced with an unwanted pregnancy? One in four women who obtain a Medicaid-funded abortion will carry unwanted pregnancies to term solely because they can’t afford an abortion. Countless others will seek alternate methods of terminating the pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, 68,000 women die as a result of “back-alley” or “coat-hanger abortions” each year. And here’s a list of potential long-term injuries incurred from an unsafe abortion: infection, haemorrhage, and injury to the internal organs, such as puncturing or tearing of the uterus.

As said in the quote at the start of this article, the Hyde Amendment was designed and enacted specifically to restrict access to abortion from poor women/people with a uterus. There is no other purpose for this legislation beyond ensuring the poverty cycle is continued and that people who have unwanted pregnancies do not have the options to make the right decision for their circumstance. This kind of legislation is inhumane and cold on the part of lawmakers more concerned with ending abortion than they are with creating the best lives possible for the babies that are born. 

Hillary Clinton’s campaign platform in 2016 made special reference to the Hyde Amendment and her plans to repeal it. Prior to November 9th, the Hyde Amendment seemed like it truly could become another piece of archaic law that the U.S. political system rightly did away with. Unfortunately, now, it seems most likely that the Hyde Amendment will be here for years to come.

Women, regardless of any choice, deserve better than coat hanger abortions. Any person with a uterus who has found themselves carrying a child they do not feel equipped to carry or raise, deserve better than unsafe and dehumanizing procedures, regardless of their income level or access to a thousand dollar medical procedure.

Take the time to tell your friends about the Hyde Amendment, discuss the classist elements of abortion legislation. Validate each other; remember that every woman and every person with a uterus deserves better. You deserve better.

Your representatives would probably love to hear the views of their constituents, and would love to do their duty as a public servant to represent your views in Congress. Let them know that he has the opportunity to serve you by taking action to repeal the Hyde Amendment. As a U student, presumably, your representatives are Rep. Chris Stewart at (202-225-9730), Senator Orinn Hatch (202-224-5251), and Senator Mike Lee (202-224-5444).