Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) on the introduction of the EACH Woman Act:
I applaud Representative Barbara Lee and Representative Jan Schakowsky along with Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Diana DeGette and Louise Slaughter and all of the co-sponsors for re-introducing the EACH Woman Act and taking a bold step in proactively opposing the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage bans. Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal Medicaid funding to be used for abortion care except in very limited circumstances. Federal funding restrictions are the most significant barrier to abortion access for low-income women in the United States.
Just over a week ago, millions of people marched throughout the country demanding that we protect access to safe, legal abortion care. Two days later, anti-choice politicians in the House of Representatives began trying to withhold access to abortion care from women who rely on the federal government for their health care by passing H.R. 7. This bill targets low-income women, federal employees, women in the military, people using Indian Health Services, and women in the Peace Corps.
It is unconscionable that we have allowed politicians to take away some women’s decisions just because of their income or where they live. The EACH Woman Act would ensure health coverage for abortion care for every woman, no matter how much money she has, what type of insurance she has, or where she lives.
The NAF Hotline receives nearly 5,000 calls each week, many from women who are desperate to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, but frequently cannot—because of law, because of circumstances, and because of the decisions of politicians who think they know better. Many of these women are forced to delay accessing the abortion care they need due to existing funding bans.
This bill will help women like:
Tenesha* from Tenessee: Tenesha is a single mother of two from Memphis, who struggles to support her family with the income she earns at her part-time job. When she found out she was pregnant, she knew abortion care was the right decision for her, and immediately started to save up for her procedure. Tenesha put aside all she could spare from each paycheck she received, trying to save enough to afford the abortion care she needed, but she soon found herself in an impossible situation: the more she delayed her care while she saved up the money for the procedure, the more the price of her procedure increased—and the more money she still needed to save. With the combined assistance of multiple abortion funds and the money she’d saved up, Tenesha was finally able to schedule her procedure when she was 18 weeks into her pregnancy. However, just days before her appointment, a major ice storm struck Tennessee, leaving widespread power outages and road closures in its wake. With a State of Emergency declared and no way to travel to her appointment, Tenesha was forced to reschedule her procedure for the next available appointment, which was more than a week away.
Janet T.* from Kentucky: Janet was still dealing with serious postpartum depression while taking care of her seven-month-old baby and other child when she found out she was pregnant again. Janet knew she couldn’t raise another child at the moment and that obtaining abortion care was the right decision for herself and her family. On top of her depression, Janet was facing the financial burden of raising enough money to cover her procedure. Thanks to a supportive boyfriend, borrowing some money from family, and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) Hotline, Janet was able to gather enough resources to obtain the abortion care she needed.
Tonia L.* from Georgia: Tonia is a mother of two who was struggling to keep a roof over her head and food on the table for her family. She was unemployed and no longer eligible to receive food stamps, and relying on assistance from her father who was helping when he could. When Tonia found out she was pregnant, she quickly realized that an abortion was the right decision for herself and her children. Tonia started gathering what money she could from friends, an old coworker, and from selling her computer, but she was still short. With some extra money from her father, and help from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) Hotline, Tonia was able to get the abortion care she needed.
Emily* from Kuwait: Emily is an American soldier who was stationed in Kuwait with her partner when she found out she was pregnant. It was virtually impossible for Emily to obtain abortion care in Kuwait, as she would have needed, among other things, the approval of three Islamic doctors. Additionally, it would be difficult for her to leave the base without having to report to a superior and explain why she needed to go off-base. Emily was afraid that if anyone found out about her pregnancy, she and her partner would be sent home and possibly taken to military court for having an illegal relationship. Fortunately, Emily was eventually able to obtain and pay for medical abortion pills from a reputable source, but other women in the armed forces are often not as lucky.
Instead of passing dangerous and extreme bans on abortion care, it’s time for Congress to lift the restrictions on abortion coverage so women can make decisions that are best for themselves and their families, regardless of their income. Women should be able to make private medical decisions with their health care providers and those they trust. Government interference that prevents women from acting on those decisions must end.
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Contact NAF if you are a reporter and would like to speak with a federal employee impacted by the Hyde Amendment this year.
*Names changed to protect patient’s privacy.
Alissa Manzoeillo, National Abortion Federation
202.667.5881, ext 219; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.