Some states have made abortion a key issue in the 2020 Campaign, which has led experts to more closely examine the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is a “rider” amendment that must be renewed periodically with each bill that appropriates (approves) funds for essential governmental operations. It dictates the extent of whether federal funds can be used for abortions and, if so, how much. As Medicaid and Medicare are federally funded, patients who use either insurance or both are impacted. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has banned federal funding for abortion services; however, it is important to keep in mind that Congress reviews and the Hyde amendment is renewed every fiscal year. 

In 1981, Congress modified the Hyde Amendment to continue the prohibition of use with federal funds for abortions “except where there is a potential danger to the life of the [expectant parent] if the fetus were carried to term.” The exception clause was expanded twelve years later to include “rape and incest.” According to Planned Parenthood, 15.6 million [persons with uteruses] (ages 19-64) have Medicaid coverage. If every state was to expand their Medicaid coverage, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, approximately 1.5 million additional persons with uteruses would be eligible. 

Right now as is, 17 states do allow the use of state-funded Medicaid coverage funds for abortion care. Often it’s a gamble on whether you will be reimbursed by Medicare/Medicaid, on basis of danger to the pregnant person’s life, rape or incest. Certain states require a police report of rape, sexual assault or molestation to approve the funds for the procedure after you pay for it front up. Residents in the other 33 states have to pay out of pocket. Some patients have had to find and apply for funding in time for their abortions (and that is assuming if they knew about it beforehand). Most of the said funding, however, does not cover the full invoice for abortion care and the patients still pay for more than half of the invoice. Abortions are not cheap, and the cost varies based on how far along in the pregnancy the person is. Somebody that is 9 weeks 0 days along in their pregnancy would have a very different cost allocation than if somebody were to be 9 weeks 6 days along in their pregnancy. 

Those who support the Hyde Amendment argue that it protects the conscience of taxpayers who are opposed to abortion and consider themselves pro-life. The Guttmacher Institute has published research that backs the assertion if abortion is legal, safe, and accessible then it lowers the patient’s risk of developing serious complications–even death– from the procedure itself. Guttmacher Institute also found that you’re more likely to die from wisdom tooth surgery more than from a safe abortion procedure.

Other risks that can occur during an unsafe abortion procedure include botched abortions. Consequences include sepsis, infertility, uterus scarring, trauma. The World Health Organization states that unsafe abortions are one of the four leading causes of pregnancy-related death and injury in connection with childbirth around the world (the other three are hemorrhage, infection, and high blood pressure). 

The access to and use of modern contraceptives primarily influences the number of unintended pregnancies, and it has already been well-documented in research that low-income persons, persons of color, young people, and immigrants do not have as much access to [and consequential use of] contraceptives to prevent pregnancies (The Guttmacher Institute). As it also turns out, low-income persons, persons of color, young people, disabled people and immigrants all disproportionately rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. Ergo, the Hyde Amendment is harmful in particular to low-income persons, persons of color, young people, and immigrants when it comes to the need for abortion care.

Given that a sizable proportion of the Deaf community is low-income and relies on Medicaid funds for access to health care coverage, it is essential for the community to think about abortion laws when voting on propositions, candidates for congressional positions, and even candidates for executive positions.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Deaf Report under the same author. This article has been placed on Deaf Vee Journal for archiving purposes.