Sometimes in the struggle for reproductive justice, it feels like we are always reacting to anti-choice efforts to further restrict abortion access in our country and our state. Our position is almost always that of defense – trying to hold on to hard-won rights, and to slow their near-constant erosion.
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the EACH Woman Act with the goal of changing that.
The groundbreaking legislation seeks to guarantee that no matter what insurance a person has – whether it is private or funded through the government – each policy must guarantee that they have access to the full range of reproductive justice. And that includes abortion.
The EACH Woman Act does this in two ways:
First, it takes away existing restrictions that prevent government-provided insurance from covering abortion services. Second, it prohibits federal, state, or local governments from attempting to prevent private insurance companies from covering these services, too.
Why do we need legislation like this?
In 1976, with the passage of the Hyde Amendment, the federal government effectively began to limit who had access to abortion services – which had been proved a constitutional right merely three years before. I’ll leave it to Representative Henry Hyde to explain why:
“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.”
-Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), 1977
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has been passed once a year, and the restrictions on access to insurance coverage for abortion have expanded to include:
- Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Federal employees and their dependents;
- Peace Corps volunteers;
- Native Americans;
- Women in federal prisons and detention centers, including those detained for immigration purposes;
- Low-income women in the District of Columbia.
Twenty five states have passed legislation further restricting abortion coverage through insurance policies, and eighteen of those have multiple such laws.
The EACH Woman Act isn’t only important because it takes a proactively pro-choice stance. It matters because of the people it helps.
Every time abortion access is restricted, it impacts the people who already face obstacles to reproductive justice and healthcare. There will always be people who can afford to access abortion services. These are largely the same people who found ways to access safe abortion even before it was legal. No level of government intrusion can stop those who can pay from accessing these services.
Take a look at the list of areas where abortion coverage is restricted at the federal level. Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP enrollees, Native Americans, women in prisons and detention centers, low income women – when anti-choice legislators restrict access, it disproportionately impacts low income people and people of color.
The EACH Woman Act is explicit in its commitment to the belief that every person deserves to have the support they need to make the best choice for their reproductive future – whatever their race, income, or immigration status. No government can make that choice for them – especially not by tying the hands of insurance providers.
During the next one hundred days, the All Above All campaign will be highlighting the reasons we should enthusiastically support the EACH Woman Act, and tracking the growing number of Co-Sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Fill in the form below to contact each Democratic member of the Texas Congressional delegation who has not yet co-sponsored the EACH Woman Act, and ask them to stand up for reproductive access for all.
From the Texas delegation, Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Beto O'Rourke, and Eddie Bernice Johnson have already signed on to show their support. You can tweet your thanks to them for standing up for the rights of every person to have access to a full range of reproductive healthcare.
We will keep pressing Texas Democrats in Congress to support this bill. Join our efforts, and let's end Hyde.