EACH Woman, Every Option
July 08, 2015, 10:00 am
Should a woman’s ability to decide whether to become a parent depend on how much money she has or where she lives? Or should the decision be up to her?
The decision of when and if to become a parent has become a matter of public discourse, with lawmakers holding too much influence over what should be a private family discussion. Lower income women, who are disproportionately of color, are trapped in a cycle where the medical assistance programs meant to help them cut off their ability to make un-coerced decisions about their health and pregnancies.
At least 1 in 6 women of reproductive age (15-44) are enrolled in Medicaid. In my own community, over 1 million Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women are living in poverty, and the number of AAPI poor rose almost 40 percent between 2007 and 2011. Given the already existing cultural, linguistic, and immigration barriers to health care access already faced by many AAPI women and families, laws that deny coverage to comprehensive reproductive health care services based on income are an insult to injury.
That a woman could be forced to carry a pregnancy to term simply by virtue of the fact that she cannot afford to do anything else is a tragedy that has been happening for nearly as long as abortion has been legal. Year after year, the Hyde Amendment bans Medicaid coverage of abortion and denies those who are struggling financially the same full-spectrum reproductive health care available to other women. Through Hyde and other funding restrictions, too many women have been forced to decide between an abortion they cannot afford or continuing a pregnancy they do not want.
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