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Beyond Federal Funding for Contraception: Taking a Firm Stance on the Hyde Amendment

Written by Angi Becker Stevens for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Over the past few months, in discussing the attack on Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, I—along with probably just about every other feminist and pro-choice activist in the country—found myself repeating “but they already don’t get federal funding for abortion!” so many times I felt like a broken record. It has been necessary, thanks to a proliferation of misleading articles and statements on the subject, to offer that kind of clarification. At the same time, however, I’ve been increasingly concerned that in our haste to remind everyone that this particular political battle is not about funding for abortion, we’ve given the impression that it’s perfectly valid and acceptable that abortion remain ineligible for federal funding. It feels almost as if we’re saying: “oh no, no, we would never ask for taxpayer money for that! We’re talking about breast exams!” And while clarity is absolutely important, and people do need to understand exactly what’s at stake in the current budget wars and what isn’t, I would argue that it’s equally vital that we not throw abortion rights under the bus in an effort to protect other family planning and health services.

Amanda Marcotte eloquently addressed some of the misgivings I’ve been feeling here recently. But I would like to add to the dialogue some thoughts not just on abortion access in general, but specifically on the topic of federal funding for abortion. When worded that way, it’s already something of a misnomer—“federal funding for abortion” calls to mind some kind of specific U.S. abortion fund for anyone who wants it. What we’re really talking about here is whether tax dollars can be used for abortion in the same way they’re used for countless other medical procedures via Medicaid and other government-funded health and welfare programs. ... Read more

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