The EACH Woman Act Matters for Women of Color

by | Mar 12, 2019 | Reproductive Rights

Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has withheld federal funds for abortion care for women enrolled in Medicaid and other health insurance through the federal government except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. This pushes abortion care out of reach of millions of women, particularly women of color. Today, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky and Diana DeGette introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which will eliminate this harmful ban by restoring abortion coverage to women who receive health care or insurance through the federal government, and prohibit political interference with health insurance companies that decide to offer coverage for abortion care.

While the EACH Woman Act would have a positive impact on millions of people seeking abortion care, it is particularly important for women of color.

Due to factors such as structural racism and discrimination, women of color face rampant income inequality and are more likely to be covered by Medicaid as a result. They are therefore disproportionately impacted by the Hyde Amendment.

The same economic insecurity that pushes women of color into Medicaid also prevents them from being able to afford abortion care out of pocket. The high out-of-pocket costs only increase when care is delayed due to barriers imposed on those seeking abortion, such as TRAP laws, mandatory delays, biased counseling laws, ultrasounds requirements and more.

Not being able to access abortion care further increases the economic disparities that women of color face. Women who are denied an abortion are more likely to fall into poverty than women who are able to obtain the care they need. Women of color deserve proactive policies that increase their economic security, such as paid sick days and paid leave, not ones like the Hyde Amendment that push them and their families further into poverty.

Legislation such as the EACH Woman Act is vital for women of color to access the health care they need. Women of color face numerous barriers that drive health disparities, such as lower levels of respect and competency from health care providers and lack of accurate information about their health care options. Women of color — and particularly Black women — have also endured a history of controlled reproduction, coercion and denial of bodily autonomy, the legacy of which is still present in the continued experiences of racism in the health care system. The EACH Woman Act would help to address some of these harms for women of color, both by battling health disparities and improving economic security.

Although the EACH Woman Act will not solve historic problems of systemic racism overnight, it will allow a woman of color to be able to meaningfully consider all of her options, regardless of her income or where she gets her health insurance, when deciding whether and when to become a parent or grow her family.

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