Sept. 30, 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which needs to be repealed, like, yesterday. The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976 to block federal funding such as Medicaid from being used to fund abortions. While certain exceptions to the amendment were passed in 1994 — for instance in cases where an individual's life is in danger or if a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest — it's still not enough. This amendment has got to go, so here's how to help repeal the Hyde Amendment.
The only person who should have the right to make decisions about an abortion is the person who seeks the procedure, and all people should have the right to accessible and safe abortion care. Access to this procedure is a right, not a privilege. According to the Guttmacher Institute, women of color are disproportionately affected by Hyde. The Institute found that 60 percent of women on Medicaid who are of reproductive age live in states that don't cover abortion care with state funds, and 52 percent of women who are affected by the Hyde Amendment are women of color.
So, how can you help repeal the Hyde Amendment 40 years later? California Rep. Barbara Lee, a lead co-sponsor of the EACH Woman Act to repeal Hyde, tells Bustle, "The best thing you can do is to go to Congress and ask them to sign on [to the EACH Woman Act] as co-sponsors — the more co-sponsors you get, the more momentum you can get."
You can find your local congressperson's contact information by entering your zip code on this website.
The EACH Woman Act was introduced by Lee, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette. The bill would respect every woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Similarly, women seeking any pregnancy-related care, including abortion and who receive care or insurance through the federal government will not be barred from receiving the care they need. The bill also "prohibits political interference with decisions of private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care," the All* Above All website notes.
Lee tells Bustle, "I have to say, I remember the day of back alley abortions, before Roe vs. Wade, and some people want to take us back to those days." Access to abortion care is incredibly important and it is a right that is constantly being chipped away. Over 50 abortion clinics have closed since 2014, and presently, one-third of U.S women seeking abortion care have to travel more than 25 miles just to receive the procedure. It's time to tell male legislators — keep in mind, Congress is 80 percent white and 80 percent male — to keep their hands off our right to safe and affordable reproductive care, and that includes abortion.
In order to keep the procedure accessible to all people in need, you can get involved locally in the fight for access, as well as get behind the EACH Woman Act. Get involved with All* Above All. Write to your congressperson. Call your local representatives. Donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds, an organization that helps people pay for reproductive services they might not be able to afford on their own.
Along with reaching out to your state representatives and getting involved with organizations, if you want to help repeal the Hyde Amendment, Schakowsky says, "Talk to people, talk to women of reproductive age, help build our army of people whose eyes are open to how discriminatory this is and want to join our fight."
It is long past time to repeal the Hyde Amendment and take women's lives, reproductive rights, and health seriously. And you know what else you can do? Register to vote — because voting for people who also want to repeal the Hyde Amendment is one of the best ways to help. We made it easy for you — you can register to vote right below.
Images: Alyssa Foote/Bustle (2)