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Two articles in the latest edition of the Guttmacher Policy Review, a peer-reviewed publication of the Guttmacher Institute, conclude the Hyde and Helms Amendments that restrict abortion funding inside and outside the United States hurt women in several ways. The authors argue that those amendments should be be done away with. But, until that can be achieved, they write, partial measures could be taken now that don't require congressional action, which is, for the time being, simply not going to happen.

The Hyde Amendment bars federal funding for abortions except in the case of rape, incest and when a woman's life is at risk. Since it was first implemented in 1977—it is an appropriations bill "rider" that must be renewed each year—poor women have been the victims of those restrictions. Seventeen states—four voluntarily and 13 by court order—use their own revenues to fund all or most medically necessary abortions by individuals covered by Medicaid. The 1973 Helms Amendment bars payment for “abortion as a method of family planning” in U.S. foreign assistance programs.

The Hyde Amendment opened the door for additional provisions that hurt women who are dependent on the government for their health insurance or health care. These include federal employees, military personnel, federal prison inmates, poor residents of the District of Columbia and tribally enrolled American Indians covered by the Indian Health Service.

In the GPR article Insurance Coverage of Abortion: Beyond the Exceptions For Life Endangerment, Rape and Incest, Heather D. Boonstra wrote:

The poorest and most vulnerable women are usually hit hardest, leaving some of them unable to obtain a safe and legal abortion. This can have dire consequences for women and their families—for instance, forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or, as is the case in many developing countries, compelling them to seek a clandestine abortion that can result in serious injury or death. [...]

Restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion fall hardest on poor women, who are already disadvantaged in a host of other ways, including in their access to the information and services necessary to prevent unplanned pregnancy in the first place. Compared with higher income women, poor women are five times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy, five times as likely to have an abortion and six times as likely to have an unplanned birth.21,22 Moreover, abortion has become increasingly concentrated among poor women: In 2008, 42% of women obtaining abortions had incomes below 100% of the poverty level—a large increase from 27% in 2000.

Sneha Barot wrote in Abortion Restrictions in U.S. Foreign Aid: The History and Harms of the Helms Amendment:
Another overarching impact of funding restrictions is that they single out and stigmatize abortion care. This stigma has a chilling effect, often leading various actors—from administrators to health service providers on the ground—to shy away even from abortion-related activities that are clearly permissible under these restrictions.
There is more below the fold.

Ironically, the Hyde Amendment provided the underpinnings for a modest but important liberalization of abortion policy in 2012 when the military added cases of rape and incest to its coverage of abortion for U.S. servicewomen and military dependents. Previously, abortions were only covered when a woman's life was endangered. Huzzah to victory on a small scale in a matter that should never have been at issue in the first place.

Boonstra points out that pushing these incremental improvements is important. But the more ambitious goal, the original goal of the reproductive rights movements after Hyde and Helms were first passed, is to repeal them altogether:

The goal is that the federal government, in its role as insurer and employer, should ensure that coverage for abortion services is included in the health insurance it provides to women and arranges for its employees and their dependents. Moreover, there should be no government restrictions that prohibit or otherwise interfere with abortion coverage in private health insurance plans.
That goal, of course, is just one part of the struggle for reproductive rights. There is no getting around the fact that this is a fight we've been mostly losing at the state level, and badly, especially in the past two-and-a-half years. As we're all too well aware, not only safe and legal abortions are under attack, but so also are birth control and other aspects of women's health because of defunding efforts. Only one cure for this: replacing enough forced-birthers in state legislatures and governors' mansions to turn the tables. Obviously, no easy task. But it's one that is essential for reasons that extend far beyond abortion and birth control.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 11:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pro Choice and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  limiting abortions to rape etc sucks (11+ / 0-)

    forcing a woman or girl to prove that she was raped so she can get an abortion?

    that means the girl or woman has to file police report or get doctor's report when most are so traumatized don't even want to discuss.

    This is what states require in order for women or girls to qualify for abortion based on rape knowing that over 1/2 of rapes are never reported to police...for good reason:

    I went through the policies of all 33 states (plus D.C.) that only cover abortions in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother, and found that 21 (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin) only require a doctor's note, while 11 (Delaware, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming ) require a police report or social services agency report.
    the requirement alone is based on the presumption that women and girls are liars, that we would lie about being raped, so damn it, you gotta prove it. fuck them.
  •  Arrest those responsible for restricting choice (8+ / 0-)

    They are practicing medicine without licenses.

    Their efforts are focused on controlling the majority of women, nothing else. Wealthy women have choice. Most women in the states where women's right to choose is restricted have few choices and these restrictive laws have enduring effects on every area of women's lives from youth to old age.

    Arrest those responsible for restricting women's right to make decisions about our own bodies.

    Arrest them, try them before a jury of women, and jail them.

  •  There is a very good argument from.. (5+ / 0-)

    .. Scott Lemieux @ Lawyers, Guns & Money that questions the constitutionality of the the Hyde amendment.

    My Annual Lecture on the Hyde Amendment and “Positive Rights” - January 29, 2011

    It seems as if at least once of year a conservative comes to explain that it’s silly that any liberal would complain about the Hyde Amendment, because it’s absurd to think that there could be any “right” to taxpayer funding.
    That is the fundie RWNJ argument we've heard for years. Scott Lemieux debunks this quite handily/logically - imo
    The argument made by people who don’t understand the issues is that there couldn’t possibly be a constitutional problem with the Hyde Amendment because American constitutionalism only protects “negative” rights — it’s a contradiction in terms for there to be a “right” to taxpayer funding.   The problem with this argument is that it isn’t true.   First of all, there are explicit “positive” rights in American constitutionalism, most prominently the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel.
    In the following segment I would take it even farther than Lemiux does here (although ianal):
    Of even more direct relevance, the Supreme Court has held that if a state university funds secular publications it must also fund religious publications, although there’s obviously no right to taxpayer-funded publications per se.    (And that’s a tougher case, because there’s a plausible argument that such subsidies violate the First Amendment.)  

    Indeed, the Court’s conservatives have pushed this reasoning even further, recently arguing in dissent that religious groups are entitled to taxpayer money even if they refuse to comply with neutral antidiscrimination criteria.

     _ emphasis added

     ..It seems to me that the supreme court ruling itself does violate the 1st amendment
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...
     And to me the the Theocrats  excuse ->"not at taxpayer expense" is just a lie to cover the fact that these religious wankers like Rick Santorums of the world just can't leave people alone; free to live their lives they way they see fit - not by the rules some religious nut job makes up

    But in the end Scott Lemieux finishes with the point that the Hyde amendment is "disgraceful public policy. There’s no good reason to prevent poor women from obtaining a medical procedure that is often necessary to preserve their health."

    And the poster is perfect: reproductive rights - It is personal not legal.

    Thx MB - that Guttmacher Policy Review is very good information to have. a keeper

    (sorry long winded again)

  •  It seems to me that these backward moves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LilithGardener

    are blatant discrimination based on ingrained religious qualifiers for medical services.
    It's disgusting.

  •  I'd take pro-lifers more seriously (3+ / 0-)

    if so many of them weren't also anti-contraception.

    I'm not a fan of elective abortion, personally, but it's not my life.

    29, male, lifelong resident of LA-4.

    by Shreve on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:26:14 PM PDT

  •  U.S. restrictions affect women raped in conflicts. (3+ / 0-)

    I was just reading about this issue last night.  The author mentioned how U.S. policy restricting the use of foreign aid funds for abortion has affected even women who have been raped in conflicts such as the Rwandan genocide.  The money can't be used for abortions even when girls are impregnated through rape, something that happens all too often in armed conflicts.

    So we're forcing women and girls who have been impregnated through violence to bear children, even when the pregnancy poses very substantial risks to the unwilling mother, risks that are particularly high for teenage mothers.  In addition, in places like Africa, many of these rapes also result in the mother becoming infected with HIV, an infection she will often pass on to her child because prenatal ARV treatment is not available to prevent it.  Thus, a woman or girl can be raped, infected with a deadly disease, and then forced to bear a child who will also carry that disease.  

    In the developing world, prospects for survival can be very low for both mother and child.  And even if the child is born healthy, who will care for it if the mother dies?  The father is a rapist, and the victim's family often rejects both the victim and the child that is the product of the rape.  The lack of access to abortion therefore creates a group of orphans who were conceived through rape and who have no one to care for them.

    Where is the sense in any of this?

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:29:55 PM PDT

  •  By their fruits... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LadyMiseryAli, snazzzybird

    ...you shall know them.

    Imagine you are a waitress making about 16000 a year and discover you are pregnant. The delivery costs a year of wages, the abortion 300. What is your choice?

  •  We all know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    until more women get out and vote the idiot brigade out of office, nothing is going to change.

  •  Congress Should Fully Fund Abortions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral

    The purpose of government is to protect its citizens. When a woman needs an abortion or any other kind of healthcare coverage but can't afford those services on her own then the government should step in to pay.

    I have exactly no sympathy for the argument that it offends someone's morality. That's not how we make public policy. We decide what's best for the country and pursue that, mitigating any undesirable side effects. It's only in the area of abortion that the extremists have cowed officials into backing this senseless policy.

    Unwanted births add to the financial burdens of people who are generally already poor. That's what it means to say, "42% of women obtaining abortions had incomes below 100% of the poverty level". And, a policy that willfully increases population when we need to be going in the other direction is bad public policy.

    Whenever someone discusses the Hyde Amendment, we need to label it "bad public policy" and say why. If the public hears "bad public policy" associated with the Hyde Amendment repeatedly, they will stop being apathetic on the issue, and get behind changes.

    •  Offended morality (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking, Calamity Jean

      Drone strikes and torture and capital punishment offend my morality, but my taxes pay for them.

      Most of the loud anti-abortion advocates are not guided by morality or principles of conscience, but by a patriarchal desire to control women's sexuality.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:09:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One more thing we should do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Contact the DCCC and ask them why they recruited and are vigorously fundraising for an anti-choice candidate for Congress in Oh-06. Ask them why they think it's a good idea to send emails to women outside the district in very blue areas telling them how critical it is that we elect this person especially when her district is very red and she's a long shot, and we have a swing district that's winnable (Oh-14) with an excellent pro-choice candidate running, Michael Wager. http://www.michaelwagerforohio.com/

    Ask them if they are aware that some women in Ohio are seething about this, especially since this person helped us lose in 2010.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

    by anastasia p on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 09:21:07 PM PDT

  •  So pro-lifers need to fix their message (0+ / 0-)

    I always got into arguments with self-established "pro-lifers" in college. "Save the fetus! Save the fetus!" it should be saving the woman will save the baby.

    The statistics brought up in the first article mentioned is alarming, but not new. If you want to stop abortions, end poverty. It isn't rocket science: if a woman knows there is financial support for her child (universal healthcare, housing, education, etc.), do you think she'll terminate the pregnancy? Removing the economics out of the equation would probably drastically affect the number of procedures done in the country (and worldwide).

    I'm not naive to think ending poverty would end all abortions (disclaimer: I am pro-choice). But if people actually think abortion is a public epidemic that needs addressed, look at root causes. It isn't that the moral fabric of society has eroded in reference to the fetus; it is that the moral fabric of society has eroded to the understanding of the conditions of our neighbors.

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