Today, Congressional Democrats Diana DeGette (Colo.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act. If it becomes law it will lift restrictions that currently impact abortion coverage in private and public health care programs to ensure that women all over the country would be able to make reprodutive decisions without the undue influence of location, income level or insurance carrier.
The act would undo the Hyde Amendment, a policy enacted in 1976 that blocks taxpayer money from being used to fund abortion services for low-income women whose health care is covered by Medicaid. It would also prevent private insurance companies from denying abortion coverage, and provide access to 1 million+ federal employees and their dependents, and women whose care is administered via the government, including veterans, some Native Americans, and nearly 14,000 women in federal prisons.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are currently 25 states that restrict abortion coverage in the private insurance market, 21 states that restrict it for public employee insurance plans, and 10 states that virtually bar coverage on all private in-state plans. Studies show that when Medicare restricts abortion coverage, 15 percent of low-income women who would have opted for abortion are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. And those women are more likely to fall deeper into poverty than their counterparts who are able to get the abortion.
The bill was co-sponsored by nearly 70 organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
In a statement regarding the proposed legislation, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said:
For far too long, this country has penalized low-income women seeking abortion—forcing those who have the least to pay the most in order to access safe, legal care. The EACH Woman Act is our chance to right that wrong, and allow every woman—no matter where she lives or how much money she makes or who provides her health insurance—to access the health care she needs.