As much as we have progressed, the abortion in US is still a major issue. Despite the right was granted way back in 1973, people are still protesting today on abortion right problems across the states.
Abortion laws US
As described in Vox coverage on abortion laws in US, a lot of fight over abortion rates us policy centres on restrictive laws set by State governments and the courts that uphold or take down those laws; this includes the Supreme Court as well.
However, the President and Congress have greater authority over abortion access; they decide the expenditure of federal dollars to support it.
In every federal budget for the past 43 years, among all the programs the government funds like the military, foreign aid and education, there is also language about something the government can’t spend money on: “coverage of abortion” except in the case of “rape or incest” or if the pregnancy would “place the woman in danger of death”.
This provision is called the Hyde Amendment. It unfairly impacts low-income people who are totally dependent on health care through federal funds. Since 1976, all the presidents have supported the Hyde Amendment by approving it in the annual federal budget.
But the 2020 election could change this because while one candidate (Joe Biden) supports the Hyde Amendment, the other has vowed to oppose it (Donald Trump).
When was abortion Mad legal in the US?
But when was abortion legalized in the US? In 1972, an abortion rights demonstration took place in Washington, DC. People marched to demand the rights to legalize abortions.
The next year, Roe vs. Wade case in the Supreme Court granted them that right. The Hyde Amendment was introduced after this case, and the federal government started paying for ways of abortions in USA through Medicaid, which accounted for roughly a third of all abortion procedures. Still, the anti-abortion backlash was strong – in Congress itself.
In 1976, Illinois Representative Henry Hyde proposed the abortion restricting Hyde Amendment during an annual budget hearing. The bill passed by a 199-165 vote, making it into that year’s spending bill and has stayed there ever since.
It has been voted for by anti-abortion politicians and pro-abortion rights politicians. In every case, these budgets have been approved and signed by the sitting president.
In 1977, Henry Hyde clearly stated that he would undoubtedly prevent, if he had a legal method, to stop abortions from anyone, whether it is a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only means at hand is the Medicaid bill.”
Where is abortion legal in the US?
To understand why and where is abortion legal in the US, I shall start with medical care. There are a handful of agencies directly affected by the Hyde Amendment that provide healthcare through federal funding, like the Indian Health Service and Peace Corps, but Medicaid is the biggest.
76 million people in the US who live near the poverty line or are disabled pay for their basic health through it. Part of Medicaid funding comes from federal dollars – the other part from State you live in. Vice President of Kaiser Family Foundation Alina Salganicoff told Vox in an interview that abortion care in the United States is largely driven by where you live, both in terms of availability of services and in addition to that, the ability of insurance to pay for it.
States that limit abortion in US medical care under the Hyde Amendment are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
That means nearly 8 million people of child-bearing age who live in these states are not covered for abortion services because of the Hyde Amendment. Moreover, abortion rates in the US are highest in restrictive states in a new study by the Guttmacher Institute.
States with fully covered abortion medical care are:
- New Mexico
(List is taken from Kaiser Family Foundation)
The Medicaid restrictions place the biggest burden on low-income people.
Abortion laws 2020
The abortion laws in 2020 are much dependent on the upcoming election.
To be eligible, you have to make less than 138% of the federal poverty line. For a single person, that is less than $18,000 annual income, for a family of two, it is $24,000, and for a family of three, it’s about $30,000.
In a BMC Women’s Health Journal article, a study of 269 women from 2015-2017 in Louisiana, a state that doesn’t cover abortion through Medicaid, shows that 29% of women would have had an abortion if Medicaid covered it. It is the intended effect for anti-abortion advocates: fewer people having abortions.
The two candidates for this year’s election are firmly in their devotee corners on the abortion access issue, but this wasn’t always the scenario. Joe Biden took office in the Senate in 1973, the same year Roe vs. Wade passed. He has supported the Hyde Amendment since it entered the federal spending bill in 1976. But in 2020, the State you live in, and the amount of money you have are the biggest factors in whether someone can access an abortion.
Joe Biden has presented the same reasoning to express his change of opinion about the Hyde Amendment. He doesn’t support the amendment now and calls for reconstructing of the law. On the other hand, Trump has only dug deeper into his anti-abortion position for abortion in US.