Today marks the 39th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which ended federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or direct endangerment of the mother's life. It was the legislative equivalent of a huge, ugly asterisk on the Roe v. Wade decision the Supreme Court handed down four years prior, in 1973, to protect women's constitutional right to abortion. Recently, as Republicans threaten an eventual government shutdown if federal funding to Planned Parenthood is not cut, we've heard again and again the pro-Planned-Parenthood arguments that the organization does "more" than "just abortions" — and that the abortions it does provide are never paid for by the government. These arguments are well-intentioned, but they ignore the growing number of women (especially low-income women, federal and military employees, and young people) who rely on government-funded insurance such as Medicaid (which now covers one in 10 women, of whom 72% are of reproductive age). These arguments send the message that when women in this group inevitably need Medicaid-assisted abortion services, their needs, bodies, and lives are worth less than other women's. And 39 years of this message is 39 too many.
The Hyde Amendment was a huge, ugly asterisk on the Roe v. Wade decision
We must never forget that Hyde was created because low-income women were seen as easy targets, and it has persisted because of a pernicious disregard for the needs of low-income people.