It's Time to Repeal the Hyde Amendment

Repealing the Hyde Amendment should not be considered a far left proposition within the Democratic Party as a whole heading into 2020. There is a current exception to Hyde now, which allows federal funds to pay for abortion when saving the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. The law states that women are entitled to a safe, legal abortion, so attaching conditions to the decision really isn’t persuasive and won’t work anymore. Abortion is part of our complete reproductive healthcare. We are expected to be educated like men, to earn like men (even though we still make less for the same work) and we pay the same percentage in taxes. Simply put, it’s our body, our choice and we’ve paid into the system so it’s time the system serves us equally.

The majority of out of pocket abortion costs are paid for by women despite the fact that it takes both a man and a woman to create a fetus and despite the economic benefit men derive from the decision to have an abortion. This means that not only are women treated unequally with regard to access to medical treatment and restrictions on the procedure itself, but we pay the majority of costs associated with the ramifications of heterosexual intercourse, including birth control costs, morning after costs and abortion costs. If the government considers a man’s failure to get an erection a medical condition and can subsidize erection pills, it should be required to subsidize the resulting medical condition caused by those erection pills.

The fact is that the Hyde Amendment not only undermines economic fairness based on gender-it also violates principles of racial justice and economic equity that contribute to generational poverty.

The Hyde Amendment also has a crippling effect for women of color as it denies insurance coverage for abortion for low-income people enrolled in Medicaid and becomes a terrible ramification for women who already struggle economically. Women of color are more statistically likely to be living in poverty, enrolled in Medicaid already and at the highest risk for unintended pregnancy. Due to this societal inequality, they are more likely to suffer the realities of abortion restrictions under Hyde by being less likely to be able to pay the out of pocket costs for an abortion. Studies show that women who want to get an abortion but cannot are more likely to end up in a perpetual state of poverty that women who can. The fact is that the Hyde Amendment not only undermines economic fairness based on gender-it also violates principles of racial justice and economic equity that contribute to generational poverty.

This stark reality of the Hyde consequence is also significant for poor women in general who face substantial disparity when it comes to reproductive health and access to medical care. The rates of unintended pregnancy, abortion and unplanned birth are also much higher as a direct result. When you don’t have economic traction, you don’t have equal access and this is particularly evident for women in the healthcare arena. Inequities in the areas of health-insurance coverage, health care, and medically accurate sex education are substantially prevalent for poor women. This ultimately means that poor women who are unable to pay the substantial out of pocket costs for an abortion are essentially forced to have a child they cannot afford, which keeps them and their resulting family in a perpetual state of poverty.

Let’s claim our rights like we all know men would and make it clear to Democratic candidates now that we deserve access to safe and equal health care and if they intend to represent us all-that means repealing the Hyde Amendment.

It’s becoming clear that the single-payer, Medicare for all concept will be the mainstream platform for Democrats as healthcare is a driving force for American voters right now. The concept that we should all have equal access to proper and affordable healthcare as a human right is fairly well established concept for most Americans. It’s also well established practice to provide men with access to reproductive healthcare without limitation. You can’t advocate that women are equal to men and not see the fight for abortion rights as critical and essential, especially now. I you believe that a woman has a legal right to choose an abortion, then why is the choice to terminate a pregnancy based on economic limitation any less persuasive, especially when the result will mean inevitable and inescapable poverty for generations to come.

This is 2019 and it’s time to come out swinging in defense of our rights as human beings. No more tip-toeing around a concept and helping the opposition by using their “Pro Life” moniker that is manipulative and hypocritical. The Hyde Amendment may have existed as a shield before, so that we didn’t need to address the elephant in the room and we could placate possible swing voters who weren’t locked into abortion rights as a single issue. This isn’t a hill we shouldn’t have to die on as a political party, because it shouldn’t even be a hill anymore. We don’t have to get suckered into some emotional argument meant to manipulate us collectively and give up our rights as women because we’re fulfilling some societal construct to be maternal above all else. We don’t have to take on all of the responsibility of an unplanned pregnancy and feel shamed into thinking that we did something wrong because we are the only ones being forced to be held accountable. Let’s claim our rights like we all know men would and make it clear to Democratic candidates now that we deserve access to safe and equal health care and if they intend to represent us all-that means repealing the Hyde Amendment.


Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero and a Scholar” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.