What is the Hyde Amendment?

The lady at the Medicaid office said that I would be covered for prenatal care but not for an abortion. I told her, I just sold my car to pay the heating bill last month and since I was laid off, my kids and I have been living with my brother’s family and there isn’t much room. I definitely can’t afford to have another child.

Medicaid is the federal health care program for low-income people living in the United States. 

When abortion first became legal in 1973, virtually all women had the ability to obtain an abortion. The Medicaid program, which covers health care for low-income people in the U.S., covered abortion just as it did other medical procedures.

But in 1977, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which banned Medicaid coverage of abortion. This is the only medical procedure that has ever been banned from Medicaid. What's more, Medicaid covers other reproductive health care needs, including birth control and sterilization. And the vast majority of private insurance plans cover abortion, too.

I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman.

Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.

Representative Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment

(Read about the history of the Hyde Amendment.)

The Hyde Amendment has a disproportionate impact on women of color, both because women of color are more likely to live in poverty and to rely on Medicaid for health care, and because women of color are also more likely to seek abortion care.  

And immigrant women, both citizens and non-citizens, are far more likely to live in poverty than women born in the United States. Most immigrant women, even those who have citizenship, are excluded from federal Medicaid altogether.

Because of the Hyde Amendment, low-income women sell their belongings, go hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risk eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion.

Some women never manage to get the money they need to pay for their abortion – which means that they are forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

So what will it take to overturn the Hyde Amendment? It’ll take all of us working together: calling on Congress, our President, and our communities to stand up for women’s lives.  Join the movement right now.

Add your voice to the fight for justice: sign the petition to repeal the Hyde Amendment!

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper -- click here for a sample letter.

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