In September 1976, just three years after Roe v. Wade, Congress passed a law called the Hyde Amendment that forbids federal funding for abortion. The only exceptions are in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman. While 17 states use their state Medicaid funding to pay for abortion in most cases, 33 states ban abortion funding for women on Medicaid except in the cases of rape, incest, and life-endangerment. Yet, barriers to accessing state medical assistance for abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or life-endangerment prevent many poor women from receiving Medicaid coverage at all.
In February of 1985, a Pennsylvania law prohibiting the state's medical assistance program from paying for most abortions of poor women took effect. The state will fund only abortions in cases of rape, incest, or life-endangerment. This law makes it extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, for low-income women to access safe and legal abortion. Several organizations in Pennsylvania that are part of the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) provide financial assistance to poor women seeking abortion but cannot fully meet the needs of low-income women unaddressed by Medicaid.
This September the ACLU, along with a wide range of coalition partners, plans to launch an initiative to commemorate the passage of the Hyde Amendment this fall and raise awareness about the state of reproductive rights for low-income women. NNAF is launching their "Hyde-30 Years is Enough!" educational campaign which brings attention to three decades of injustice caused bty the Hyde Amendment. Click here to learn more about Hyde-30 Years is Enough!