Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the original passage of the Hyde amendment. The Hyde amendment, as you may know, prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion services. This amendment has been attached as a rider to appropriations bills each year since its original passage. So while it is not permanent law, it has been the reality for 35 consecutive years, and has altered the landscape on which we battle for access to reproductive health care.
The real world impact of the Hyde amendment is that for many women across America the rights bestowed to them through Roe v. Wade became elusive and in name only. For women who rely on the government for their health care, a small set of exceptions (rape, incest, and life of the mother) allow for insurance coverage of abortions (and not even then if you’re in the Peace Corps). The set of women impacted under Hyde is broad, but most notably Hyde affects low-income women who rely on Medicaid.
So how do we mark this solemn anniversary? Well, I Googled what the appropriate gift is for 35th wedding anniversaries to start. Imagine my amusement to learn it was jade. How fitting. Jaded is the perfect adjective to describe how many feel about the ongoing debates surrounding women’s reproductive health care.
Sine Roe’s passage, there has been a steady decline in women’s right to abortion access. Over the decades, we’ve lost important ground, and this legislative session at both the state and federal level has been difficult to stomach. HR3, a bill that passed the House in May, would not only have written the Hyde amendment into permanent law, it would have gone much, much further in restricting women’s ability to access legal abortion services. All of this, along with the battles over Title X funding, investigations into a trusted health care provider, and other attacks on women’s reproductive health services can leave even the most optimistic of advocates jaded.
And even though I may be a bit jaded, I’m not stopping either.
All of these attacks also mean that the work I, and my fellow advocates, do is even more needed and important. And as we battle back against this latest onslaught of restrictions and attempts to defund and investigate, I still have my eye on the prize – getting rid of Hyde once and for all.
Maybe once that happens, I’ll buy myself a treat. I think I’ve picked out something perfect.