6 things you can do to make abortion more accessible for low-income women
Destiny Lopez is co-director of All* Above All, an organization focused on lifting bans that deny access to abortion coverage, especially for low-income women. This year marks 42 years of the Hyde Amendment, which limits the amount of financial help that the government can provide abortion patients. And as the country waits to learn the fate of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, the future of Roe v. Wade is in question, too. That’s why it is so vital for us to know how to support one another in our fight for reproductive health care access. Here, Lopez explains how we can help low-income women access abortion care right now.
With changes to the Supreme Court raising serious questions about the future of abortion access in the United States, the fight to protect our rights can seem exhausting at times. But, now more than ever, we must reignite our activism and examine existing restrictions on abortion, and especially target their impact on women and low-income people. The Hyde Amendment is one of the oldest and most harmful abortion restrictions. Dating back to 1976, the Hyde Amendment bans insurance coverage for abortion for people enrolled in Medicaid—forcing women to delay care, pushing people deeper into poverty, and making abortion completely inaccessible for some. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
To mark 42 years of this unjust ban taking away poor women’s body autonomy and decision-making power, here are six things you can do to help to end abortion coverage bans. We can build a future where income doesn’t determine your access to essential pregnancy-related care.
1Be the change.
The Hyde Amendment persists after all these years partly because not enough people know about it. So get informed! Read some op eds, fact sheets, and personal testimonials about the harms of banning Medicaid coverage for abortion. It will help you form your own views on the policy, and will come in handy when you’re talking to others. Educating ourselves is the very first step to creating change. For example, did you know that bans on Medicaid insurance coverage for abortion force one in four poor women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term? Get informed, stay mad, and tell a friend.
2Outshine the opposition.
Use your creativity and organizing skills to plan a memorable event: you might host an intimate book club, gather some friends for a protest, or plan a major rally. There are many different options for speaking out on an issue in a public way. Be sure to take care of your volunteers and attendees and consider how to make your event inclusive, accessible, and even media-worthy. Remember, the Women’s Marches started with a Facebook post!
3Let ‘em know! Ask your representative to support the EACH Woman Act.
It’s hard to imagine Congress passing any good legislation anytime soon—but remember that policy change is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take years to pass important legislation, and that only happens when legislators hear consistently from you that the issue is a priority. Email or call your representatives to tell them that abortion coverage bans are bad for young people, women, and people of color. Ask what they’re doing to support the EACH Woman Act—visionary legislation to ensure that no one is denied abortion coverage just because of where they live or how much money they make.
4Tackle a tough conversation.
Stigma starts at home, and so does breaking stigma. Consider talking to your friends, family members, and community members about abortion coverage and affordability. Maybe kick off the discussion by talking about whether your state covers abortion care in its Medicaid program, and how that might impact you or someone you love if you experience an unintended pregnancy. Compassion and patience can go a long way to help people understand a complex issue like abortion.
5Dare to declare.
If there was ever a time to be loud, proud and outspoken with your support for keeping abortion accessible and affordable, the time is now. Each of us should be able to live, work, and make decisions about our health and our future with dignity and economic security.
Whether it’s a creative protest sign, a fierce tweet, or a letter to the editor, speak up and keep speaking up about why no one should be denied access to the full range of pregnancy-related care. Your voice matters, and our voices united can make all the difference.
6Build a bridge.
If you’re already a superstar activist for abortion rights (thanks!), consider talking to people working on immigrants’ rights and racial justice about the connections between these issues. Immigrants, people of color, and low-wage workers are all disproportionately harmed when abortion is pushed out of reach, so let’s break down the silos and work together to advance our shared values of dignity, respect, and opportunity. You never know how many allies you have until you reach out.
As we mark almost two years of resistance to the Trump and Pence agenda of punishment and shame, our activism is making a difference, and we can’t let up now.
Let’s IGNITE a movement for fair wages, for decent working conditions, for keeping families together, and for access to reproductive health care, including abortion. We know, as women, as people of color, what it’s like to find ourselves facing tough opposition. We know what it takes to make change. We will be bold in our struggle for justice—join us.
Learn more about All* Above All here.