It has been 43 years since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman’s right to have an abortion, yet alarmingly, the procedure is still not accessible to thousands. Many impoverished women are unable to obtain the service as a result of provisions such as the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment restricts federal funding for abortions and makes them unavailable through government health programs like Medicaid. As a result, low-income women are without any means of affording a legal pregnancy termination. It is vital for the U.S. government to end this exclusion of abortion in government sponsored health programs so that women of any socioeconomic background can gain access to a legal and sometimes necessary medical procedure.
Statistically, low-income women are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy, which makes them the prime victims of provisions like the Hyde Amendment. Abortions can cost over $1,000, meaning that they are nearly impossible to afford for someone living below the poverty line. Even abortions that take place in the first trimester cost about $430, which is more than double what uninsured women typically spend on healthcare.
Medicaid functions to help individuals with limited recourses, such as women who are directly affected by the Hyde Amendment and similar provisions. Without assistance, they may be forced to bear intense financial burdens that could leave them and their families in even more dire circumstances. Government health programs must begin funding abortions so that this demographic can have fair access to safe and legal medical procedures.
Those against the inclusion of abortion in government health programs often cite abortion as a personal choice rather than a medical imperative. These individuals believe that government should not provide funding due to a lack of necessity. Although abortion is indeed a personal choice, it is necessary that government health programs such as Medicaid provide funding for the procedure.
First of all, it is inconsistent to exclude abortion from coverage. Medicaid covers other seemingly unnecessary procedures that fall into the category of personal choice. Both vasectomies and tubal ligation are currently included in coverage, meaning that the federal government has no objection to funding these procedures. Given the coverage of these unnecessary procedures, it seems that the only reason to exclude abortions would be on the grounds of a moral objection, which is not supported by any federal legislation. Even if abortion is considered to be unnecessary, the inclusion of these procedures creates a controversy when health insurance denies abortion coverage.
Research has indicated that the high cost of abortions has influenced many women to self-induce abortions. The high cost can also result in low-income women seeking out less-than-legal means of terminating their pregnancies. Both of these alternatives are unreasonably dangerous since a safe option can easily be made available through government health programs.
It is also of great interest to the government to provide impoverished women with easier access to abortion. Low-income women are less likely to be able to afford the expenses typically associated with birthing and raising a child. This often results in the financial burden falling onto the government. This could cost the government money in foster care, social services and welfare programs.
Although not accepted by all, abortion has been legal in the United States since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Therefore, the perpetual controversy surrounding the issue must not have an effect on the women’s ability to obtain a pregnancy termination.
The United States is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to this issue. In a study, researchers from the University of California and Ibis Reproductive Health found that in an analysis of 80 countries, only 21 provide as little federal support for abortion as the United States. It is about time that the U.S. government provides women with the rights and opportunities that they were granted decades ago.