New Report Takes on Injustice of the Hyde Amendment

By Rachel Walden — December 9, 2010

The Center for American Progress has released a new report, “Separate and Unequal: The Hyde Amendment and Women of Color,” that seeks to draw attention to how policies such as the Hyde Amendment (which restricts federal funding for abortion) disproportionately affect low-income women, women of color, and young women. Toni M. Bond Leonard of Black Women for Reproductive Justice explains the consequences and injustice of such funding restrictions n the preface:

The Hyde Amendment is, perhaps, the most punitive and inhumane regulation imposed upon the reproductive lives of low-income women. Each day, scores of low-income women are forced to make a choice between using scarce resources to take care of themselves and their families or use those dollars to pay for an abortion. The landmark decision in Roe v. Wade may have held that women have the constitutional right to determine whether to carry a pregnancy to term, but the Hyde Amendment stripped that right away from low-income women, especially low-income women of color.

The report provides a clear overview of the Hyde Amendment, related federal abortion funding bans, and state funding restrictions. It also makes a compelling case for the repeal of Hyde, discusses reproductive health disparities, and provides an introduction to the history of reproduction-related discrimination in the United States.

It concludes:

Abortion funding restrictions, on their own, violate the constitutional, civil, and human rights of women of color. But funding bans also interact with other policies and conditions that violate their rights to health and life, to equality and nondiscrimination, and to self-determination…

These attacks must not go unanswered. We must heed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonition that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Ending abortion funding restrictions will improve the lives of all women, but none more so than the women who have shouldered much more than their fair share of injustice.

The full report is well worth a read. Relatedly, Loretta Ross of SisterSong has an informative piece at On the Issues on the response to recent anti-abortion campaigns: “Fighting the Black Anti-Abortion Campaign: Trusting Black Women.”

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