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The EACH Woman Act Grants Access to Abortion Care, Regardless of Income, Insurance or Residence, Empowering Low Income Women

First Posted: Jul 11, 2015 04:25 PM EDT
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Pro-Choice Supporters Rally In DC Against Restrictive Abortion Laws

Photo : Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Earlier this week, House Democrats introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Woman Act. The pioneering legislation endeavors to weaken the long-standing Hyde Amendment, allowing government-funded health plans to pay for abortion services.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to advancing health, dignity, and justice for the 26 million Latinas, has chosen to applaud the leadership of lead sponsors Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) and 60 additional members of Congress because of their decision to support the introduction of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act.

The EACH Woman Act is groundbreaking legislation crafted to lift restrictions on abortion coverage, which is essential for women and residence. The bill ensures that all women, regardless of income, insurance and district, have health coverage for abortion care.

Within the past few years, unprecedented restrictions and bans have swept the nation, and this legislation strives to counteract the absence of fair access. The need to access health coverage is particularly important for Latinas and other women of color who've been hardest hit by restrictions that's made safe, affordable abortion care nearly impossible to obtain.  

"A majority of Americans agree that a woman enrolled in Medicaid should have all her pregnancy-related healthcare covered by her insurance, including abortion services. And among young people and people of color, that opinion is a tidal wave. We are ready to change the game in Washington," said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. "We are organized, making phone calls, knocking on doors, and paying visits to our members of Congress. We are ready to do what it takes to make Hyde history."

The EACH Woman Act creates important standards for reproductive health, allowing every woman her own decision about pregnancy. Pregnancy-related care, including abortion services, will be provided to a woman if she receives care or insurance through the federal government.

Also, the legislation prohibits political interference with the private health insurance companies and their decision to facilitate coverage for abortion services. Incredibly, the legislation will overturn the Hyde Amendment, which allows restrictions on abortion coverage for women enrolled in Medicaid. That amendment has been a longstanding, undefeatable barrier to abortion care for those who are low-income, people of color, immigrants, young or living in rural communities.

"The Hyde Amendment severely restricts the ability of a woman to make the health care decisions that are best for herself and her family. Studies show that a woman who wants to get an abortion but is denied is three times for likely to fall into poverty than a woman who can get an abortion," Shivana Jorawar, Reproductive Justice Program Director, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, shared in a statement. "The Congressional Progressive Caucus recognizes that the Hyde Amendment creates unnecessary obstacles to care for women struggling to get by and we applaud them for a budget that respects personal health decisions, instead of interfering with them."

More than 75 organizations committed themselves to advancing reproductive health and rights, asking that the Senate and House Appropriations Committee Chairs reject policies that would help to withhold insurance coverage and funding of abortion care. The 60+ organization involved in the All Above All campaign has helped to lift bans that deny this life saving coverage, simultaneously empowering low-income women via the freedom of choice.

"Politicians should not be allowed to interfere with a woman's personal medical decisions just because she's poor. Yet for years, antiabortion lawmakers have used the Hyde Amendment to deny abortion coverage to women enrolled in Medicaid who are struggling to make ends meet," Jessica Arons, President & CEO Reproductive Health Technologies Project, said in a statement.

"We applaud the Congressional Progressive Caucus for removing this discriminatory provision from its budget and look forward to the day when federal law ensures every woman has coverage for all pregnancy-related care, including abortion care, regardless of her income or where she lives."

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