Abortions should be covered under government health insurance

The Hyde Amendment needs to be repealed for the sake of logic and reason


Abortion is legal, but poor Americans have no healthcare coverage on abortion expenses because of the Hyde Amendment. It needs to be repealed. Photo by Ken Gigliotti of the Winnipeg Free Press.

By Mark Lu

The Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade established that a woman’s right to have an abortion is protected by the 14th Amendment, and that states are not allowed to regulate abortions in the first two trimesters of pregnancy (the first seven months). In 1992’s Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court slashed this trimester ruling and established that abortion was legal up to fetal viability (aka abortion was legal anytime, anywhere).

In 1976, the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations provision which prohibited use of Medicaid funds to pay for abortions except for during cases in which the life of a woman is threatened, passed the House of Representatives. In 1993, the exceptions were expanded to cases of rape or incest. Finally, in January of 2017, the Hyde Amendment was made permanent.

The Hyde Amendment needs to be overturned, and the government must provide federal dollars toward funding abortions if consumers choose so, because a) the right to have an abortion is covered under the 14th amendment, and b) choosing to neglect the health concerns of lesser-fortunate Americans because of the legal choices they make is simply outdated.

Medicaid is a federal program that provides insurance to and subsidizes health care costs for poorer Americans. More fortunate Americans would get health insurance from their employers, policies in which abortion coverage is up to the insurance provider. The Hyde Amendment, however, prevents Medicaid dollars from covering abortion procedures. Medicaid will fund health services for carrying a baby to term, but will not fund an abortion, a choice that is both counterintuitive and counterproductive. As stated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the federal government should not violate a woman’s privacy in deciding whether to have an abortion or not, nor should it “selectively withhold benefits because she seeks to exercise her right of reproductive choice in a manner the government disfavors.”

The abortion debate is divided into pro-choice and pro-life sides, both of which are pretty well-defined by their names. Pro-life indicates that a life is being taken, whereas pro-choice indicates that a choice is being made, so technically the debate over abortion isn’t even addressing the same issue. I’m not here to express an opinion on a debate in which two sides are not even arguing on the same topic. I don’t really care if abortions are ethical or not (I’m not female nor am I a fetus, so I don’t get a vote), but what I do know is that abortion is legal. And to withhold money from poor people who cannot afford to raise children because of a choice made by the person, a choice that is entirely legal, is both unethical and illogical for two reasons.

Pretend that you’re going off to college (which most of you are), and your parents decide to establish the following precedent: You can go to College One, where the price is low and the education is amazing, or you can go to College Two, where the price is high but the education is awful. Your parents are only willing to provide financial support if you go to College Two because they went there. Therefore, if you choose College Two, your parents’ grant will probably cover nothing (College Two is expensive) and they would be forced to go into crippling debt, leaving less money for your younger siblings (other individuals who need Medicaid dollars) to go to college. However, if you choose College One, your parents decide not to provide that grant and you still go into crippling debt and lose that golden education. And don’t forget; you’re already poor. You cannot afford to go into further debt.

College One is the abortion. Your parents (the government) aren’t willing to pay for it despite the fact that it would be better for your future, and as a result, you wouldn’t be able to afford it in the first place. College Two represents carrying a fetus to term. Your parents (the government) will fund that, but then you would either have to raise that kid for eighteen years or give it up for adoption, both of which are arguably unhealthy for that kid.

Why are your parents so intent on wanting you to go to College Two? Because that’s where they went, and right now they’re just being stubborn, neglectful of the changing times and newer generations. And that’s the government’s current predisposition. I’m not religious, so it’s strange to me that many religious extremists in Congress so obviously and shamelessly drive public policy with their Biblical principles. Whatever happened to the separation between church and state?

Abortions need to be covered by government-sponsored insurance, because abortions are legal, and because withholding health insurance from poor Americans who make a perfectly legal choice to have an abortion is unethical and discriminatory. It’s time to drop the silly, outdated notions of the past and move forward. Repealing the Hyde Amendment is the first step toward doing just that.