What you should know about the Hyde Amendment

Monday, June 24, 2019 blog Share

What does Hyde mean for abortion access?

Women at coffee shop

Whether or not you're a fan of Joe Biden, or you're following the antics of 2020 Presidential candidates at all, the Hyde Amendment should be a part of your vocabulary. Passed in 1976 by Congressman Henry Hyde, Hyde prohibits the use of federal funds (Medicaid, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the Children’s Health Insurance Program) to pay for abortion, except when it's deemed necessary to save the life of the pregnant person, or in cases of rape and incest. As of 2016, 57% of voters supported Hyde and 36% opposed it. 

What does Hyde mean for abortion access? Well, approximately 15.6 million women in the United States, including 1 in 5 women of reproductive age (women aged 15–44), are on Medicaid, and although states are able to use some percentage of their Medicaid allotment to fund abortion, they don't always do so (look here for a list of states which do allow Medicaid to cover abortion). Hyde also affects Native American people, servicewomen and veterans, people in the Peace Corps, federal employees, as well as those in Washington D.C. and in immigrant detention facilities and prison. Those impacted by Hyde are disproportionately low income people, people of color, immigrants, and young people,  who then must figure out how to fund their own abortions, which, depending on how far along one is when she learns she's pregnant, can cost anywhere from $350 to $3000. It's also not just a matter of paying for the abortion, but managing child care, transportation, food, lodging, and other expenses associate with accessing health care. While assembling the money to pay for the procedure, the pregnancy may progress so that the pregnant person is then in a new trimester, making the abortion more expensive and more complicated. She may then have to go to an entirely different state, which then involves more travel, more time taken off work, etc. (States such as North and South Dakota, where Medicaid doesn't cover abortion, also have few abortion clinics, and require abortion seekers to travel far for care.)

In order to get an abortion, people forgo things like food, rent, and essentials, and also turn to unsafe means of terminating their pregnancy. Abortion funds are fundamental when it comes to providing access to abortion. Some funds cover travel and other logistics, and others will help with funding the abortion itself. Before you call an abortion fund, find out what your insurance situation is - will your insurance cover your abortion? Where's the nearest in- network abortion provider? Then, make an appointment at that clinic and let them know you won't be able to afford the procedure - they might be able to help you out, and some clinics have relationships with abortion funds they'll connect you with. You'll also need to figure out how much money you can come up with for the procedure, since abortion funds usually can't fund the entire cost of an abortion.

Self-managed abortion could be a good option for you if you're having trouble accessing a clinic, since it eliminates the need to travel, although you should be within one to two hours of medical care, in case complications happen. When taking abortion pills, you should understand how the medicines work, how they should be taken, what you can expect in terms of bleeding, cramping and other side effects, and when the pills are most effective - the earlier you are in pregnancy, the better. Women Help Women can help you access abortion pills, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, like how to know if your abortion has been successful, and when your period should return.