Abortion may be legal in the United States, but the federal government effectively blocks this choice for poor women according to a new report released by the Guttmacher Institute this week. A study shows that one in four poor women who face an unintended pregnancy would like to choose abortion but cannot do so due to Medicaid restrictions. Latinas are disproportionately impacted, meaning that when it comes to unplanned pregnancy, millions of Latinas are left without a “choice.”
Federal legislation known as “the Hyde Amendment” prohibits Medicaid from funding abortion care. As a result, for more than 30 years, Medicaid has not provided abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger.
Approximately 2 million Latinas between the ages of 13 and 44 rely on Medicaid for their reproductive health care. Because so many Latinas rely on Medicaid, the Hyde Amendment disproportionally impacts the ability of Latinas to receive comprehensive reproductive health care. By not covering abortions, Latinas are stripped away of a fundamental right to decide if and when they want to parent. Latinas should not be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, that is the real impact of this restriction.
This report is especially timely as Congress debates and reviews health care reform proposals. Pregnancy and parenthood are not political issues, they are personal decisions that families should make for themselves. Let this evidence-based data remind our members of Congress not to punish women and families but to instead afford us with comprehensive reproductive health care that includes abortion services for all women.
For the full report “Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review” released by the Guttmacher Institute, please go here.