(PRESS RELEASE) Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) today introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would ensure all women have access to health insurance coverage for abortion services, no matter how much money they make, what insurance plan they have, or where they live.
Today’s new legislation would finally put an end to the Hyde Amendment, a policy prohibiting federal Medicaid coverage for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. First passed in 1976, this discriminatory policy has had a severely disproportionate impact on women who already face significant barriers to health care, including abortion services, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young women, and women of color.
The EACH Woman Act would restore coverage for abortion services to women enrolled in insurance plans and programs offered or managed by the federal government, including Medicaid, Medicare, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Indian Health Services, and TRICARE, the federal health care program for military families. The bill would also prohibit political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage of abortion care.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“No woman should ever be denied critical reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion, simply because her health insurance refuses to cover her care. Yet for decades, politicians have allowed discriminatory policies to block low-income women from the full range of reproductive health care coverage they need and deserve.
“The EACH Woman Act would finally guarantee every woman can get the reproductive health care she needs, no matter how much money she makes or where she lives.
“It’s time for our government to put an end to the discriminatory policies that unjustly target women who are hit hardest by tough economic circumstances, especially young women and women of color.
“We are proud to stand with the co-sponsors of the EACH Women Act and the committed reproductive health and justice leaders who have made history today in defense of the health and safety of all women across the U.S.”
Restrictions on coverage for abortion services seriously impact women across the U.S. According to recent data, approximately 1 in 6 women of reproductive age are enrolled in Medicaid and more than 1 million women are federal employees. And studies show that when politicians place severe restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking an abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
In response to discriminatory bans on health care coverage for abortion, reproductive justice, health, and rights organizations—including the Center for Reproductive Rights—launched a bold new campaign, All* Above All, in 2013 to build support for lifting bans on abortion coverage that disproportionally harm low-income women and communities of color.
Earlier this year, Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Lois Frankel (D-FL)—all original cosponsors of the EACH Woman Act—reintroduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (S217/HR 448), a bill that would prohibit states from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services..
Together, these two proactive legislative measures would remove many of the significant, and too often insurmountable, barriers to affordable, safe, legal, and high-quality abortion services that face millions of women throughout the United States.