As we gear up to celebrate the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade tomorrow, the Kaiser Family Foundation has issued a compelling new brief examining abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act. You can download the full report here, but we’ve gone ahead and broken it down for you.
Warning: this isn’t pretty. While millions of women stand to benefit from health insurance coverage, which by and large is a positive thing, our country’s 11.8 million uninsured women of reproductive age are at an egregious disadvantage. Here’s why:
The Hyde Amendment is alive and well. The ACA reinforces the amendment’s restrictions on abortion, limiting federal funds to pay only for abortions to terminate pregnancies that endanger the life of the woman or that are a result of rape or incest. This policy disproportionately impacts poor women who rely on federal programs for their healthcare. The Center for Reproductive Rights explains in detail how the Hyde Amendment harms poor women.
The ACA explicitly prohibits states from including abortion in any essential benefits package. What’s more, states can — and 24 of them have so far — pass laws banning all plans participating in the Marketplace from covering abortions. States may even prohibit abortion coverage in the case of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is in danger. This currently affects 3.9 million women who live in such a state.
Your provider doesn’t cover abortion? So sad, too bad… for you. Under the ACA, discrimination against abortion is a-OK. Plans participating in the state Marketplace can not discriminate against providers who are unwilling to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
These coverage limitations, especially when combined with the current political maelstrom against abortion rights, are very dangerous. Poor and low-income women will shoulder the brunt of these restrictions and their health — not to mention freedom — will suffer. It seems that lawmakers have forgotten — or, more accurately, are choosing to ignore — the fact that abortion is a legal, medical procedure.
By targeting abortion care, politicians are sending a clear message that women do not deserve comprehensive health coverage. This is not what I expected from a supposedly prochoice President and his promise for universal, affordable healthcare; when half of our population is restricted from accessing or can’t afford a common form of reproductive healthcare, it is neither universal nor affordable.