Trump’s Extreme New Anti-Choice Agenda Is Full Of Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Misinformation

On September 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing a new “pro-life coalition,” led by a known anti-choice extremist. As part of the announcement, Trump also pledged a commitment to four anti-choice policy priorities that have been long promoted by right-wing media, involving defunding Planned Parenthood, banning abortion, and entrenching the Hyde amendment as federal law.

Trump Campaign Announced A New Anti-Choice Agenda And “Pro-Life Coalition” Led By Extremist

Rewire: Trump Announced “Pro-Life Coalition” To Appeal To “Anti-Choice Activists” Who Have Been “Questioning Trump’s Commitment To Ending Legal Abortion.” On September 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced a new “pro-life coalition” meant to appeal to anti-choice voters. As Rewire’s Ally Boguhn wrote, this move came after “anti-choice activists” expressed skepticism about the candidate, “questioning Trump’s commitment to ending legal abortion.” [Rewire, 9/16/16]

Politico: “Head Of A Major Anti-Abortion Rights Group” Is Going To Lead Trump’s New “Pro-Life Coalition.” As Politico reported, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the “head of a major anti-abortion rights group,” the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), will lead the coalition while other leaders “are slated to be rolled out later this month.” An SBA List spokesperson told Politico that despite Dannenfelser’s previous support for former presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), her job will now be to rally “‘national and statewide anti-abortion leaders’” around Trump. [Politico, 9/16/16]

The Hill: As Part Of New Coalition, Trump Promised To Support “Legislative Priorities” Of Anti-Choice Movement. In addition to appointing Dannefelser as eader of the new coalition, Trump also announced a set of policy proposals meant to strengthen his credibility among anti-choice voters. According to The Hill, Trump not only “made a new policy promise” to make permanent the Hyde Amendment -- a ban on the allocation of taxpayer money to abortion services -- but also endorsed the other “legislative priorities” of the anti-choice movement. These include a promise to appoint Supreme Court judges who would reject the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade, a commitment to “defunding Planned Parenthood,” and a pledge to seek a “national ban on abortions after 20 weeks.” [The Hill, 9/16/16]

Trump’s New Policy Proposals On Abortion, Planned Parenthood, And The Hyde Amendment Have Been Promoted By Right-Wing Media

1. Fetal Pain And 20-Week Abortion Bans

Trump’s Policy: Support For Fetal Pain Legislation And A 20-Week Abortion Ban

Trump Made Commitment To “Signing Into Law The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act.”  In a letter describing his new coalition and policy priorities, Trump announced a commitment to “signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban what the campaign called “painful late-term abortions.” It is designed to ban abortions after 20 weeks based on the faulty premise that fetuses are able to feel pain at this time during pregnancy. [Trump Campaign Letter, September 2016]

Right-Wing Media Claim: Fetal Pain Necessitates Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle: “The Baby Can Feel Pain” After Five Months In The Womb. On the May 14, 2015, edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle agreed with then-Speaker of the House John Boehner's (R-OH) claim that “by five months in the womb, unborn babies are capable of feeling pain.” Guilfoyle urged opponents to “embrace the science” and “understand that the baby can feel pain and sensation and all that” after five months in the womb:

ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): All right. Let's do this. Take a listen to this. It stays in the same world. We turn the debate a little bit. Yesterday the House approved a bill banning most abortions after five months. It didn't take long for Hillary Clinton to weigh in, tweeting this.

“When it comes to women's health there are two kinds of experts: women and their doctors. True 40-plus years ago, true today. - H.”

But Speaker John Boehner standing firm on his support for that legislation.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have no obligation, no higher obligation than to speak out for those who can't speak for themselves, to defend the defenseless. That's what this bill does. Because we know that, by five months in the womb, unborn babies are capable of feeling pain and it's morally wrong to inflict pain on an innocent -- human being.


BOLLING: All right, K.G. He's (ph) on your side.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Do you know what? We have a public policy interest and as a country a duty and obligation to preserve the sanctity of life. When you are talking about a five-month-old, that is -- it's unbelievable to me, I don't know who would ever even fathom trying to take a life at that position, because we know that the baby is viable.


GUILFOYLE: And why not embrace the science and the understanding, instead of operating in ignorance to understand that the baby can feel pain and sensation and all that. [Fox News,The Five, 5/14/15, via Nexis]

Fox Guest: “We Know That Babies ... Can Feel Pain” At 20 Weeks. On the August 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox guest Penny Young Nance, who is president of the anti-choice organization Concerned Women For America, said, “We know that babies” at 20 weeks in the womb “can feel pain,” to which host Eric Bolling responded, “Right”:

PENNY YOUNG NANCE: We know that babies at that point can feel pain. At 20 weeks, which is what the bill we've been asking Congress to vote on. We know that a baby, very early, has a heartbeat, at 18 days.


NANCE: We know that they can hear and respond to their mother's voices. This is Science. Wake up. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 8/12/15, via Nexis]

Townhall: It Is “Indisputable” That A Fetus “Can Feel Pain By 20 Weeks Post-Fertilization.” On January 21, 2015, Townhall columnist Arina Grossu claimed that it is a “matter of indisputable biology” that a fetus “can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization”:

The unborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks post-fertilization at the latest: This is matter of indisputable biology. Embryology text books teach that by 18 weeks post-fertilization, when the connection between the spinal cord and the thalamus (the pain-processing center) is complete, painful stimuli cause stress hormone levels to go up such that the child can perceive severe pain. [Townhall, 1/21/15]

Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly Claims “Most Countries In The World Have The 20-Week Threshold” And Dismisses Women's Health Concerns. On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that “most countries in the world have the 20-week threshold,” complaining that women could obtain abortions for “any reason at all” as well as suggesting that a woman claiming a health reason for a later-term abortion might say “Look, I sprained my hand.” O’Reilly also asserted that at “20 weeks … babies start to feel pain.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/10/13]

Fact: Experts Have Rejected Anti-Choice Assertions Of Fetal Pain At 20 Weeks

Guttmacher: Twenty-Week Abortion Ban “Is Misguided And Harms Women's Health.” In a statement about a proposed Senate measure to block abortion after 20 weeks, the Guttmacher Institute explained that such a ban is based on “faulty science” surrounding fetal pain and is both “harmful to women's health and fundamentally misguided”:

The proposed federal ban on abortion at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization (equivalent to 22 weeks' gestation) is harmful to women's health and fundamentally misguided. The bill is premised on faulty science, would fall hardest on the most vulnerable women, and contains provisions that could lead to the targeting of abortion providers. Instead of pursuing such a ban, those concerned about later abortions should work to help women access abortion care earlier in pregnancy and should also promote policies to prevent unintended pregnancy.

The 20-week abortion ban, misleadingly labeled as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is based at least in part on the assertion that fetuses can experience pain starting at 20 weeks post-fertilization--a claim that is not supported by the preponderance of scientific evidence. The bill is also patently unconstitutional, since it would prohibit abortion before viability without any exception to preserve a woman's health. The bill also includes particularly callous and cruel rape and incest exceptions that force rape victims to wait 48 hours and make two visits to see two different providers before having an abortion.

Moreover, the 20-week abortion ban would fall hardest on low-income women, the very group bearing a disproportionate burden of unintended pregnancies. According to a study by researchers at UCSF, women obtaining an abortion at or after 20 weeks' gestation were much more likely than women obtaining an abortion in the first trimester to report delays because they had difficulty raising funds for the procedure and travel costs, or because they had difficulty securing insurance coverage. [Guttmacher Institute, 9/21/15]

Salon: Medical Expert Suggested Fetal Pain Warnings Are “Based In Politics” Because Research Has Found Fetuses Can’t Feel Pain Until “About 24 Weeks.” In an interview with Salon, Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Anne Davis said warnings about fetal pain and brain development are “created concerns” that are “based in politics,” not science. According to Davis, a fetus’s brain is not sufficiently developed to perceive pain until ”about 24 weeks" gestation. Politicians “can have an opinion about that, but it doesn’t change the information,” she told Salon:

“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”


“That’s just where the science is. You can have an opinion about that, but it doesn’t change the information,” Davis says. “Science is not going to get the brain to connect faster.”


And yet, despite ample research debunking claims about fetal pain, the political narrative arguing otherwise continues to dominate. Facts about embryology and the science of gestational development are often ignored outright or framed as somehow extraneous to the debates taking place, and reproductive rights opponents have been wildly successful in selling these bans as emotional issues — that support for them should come from the gut, not from thick tomes of medical facts.

And, at least superficially, their framing seems to be working. According to recent survey, a narrow majority of Americans claim to support these bans, and, troublingly, the pseudoscience behind fetal pain has also begun to crop up in the examination room among women seeking abortions.

“Patients are now asking me about fetal pain. This was not happening 15 years ago,” Davis says. “When you’re sitting in your office with a woman who is 22 weeks into a pregnancy with a severe fetal anomaly — she’s depressed, she’s stressed and now she’s worried, ‘Is my baby going to feel pain?’ It’s just another thing these women have to struggle with. And why? These are created concerns. They are not based in science, they are based in politics.” [Salon, 8/7/13]

Royal College Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists: “Research Shows That The Sensory Structures Are Not Developed Or Specialised Enough To Experience Pain In A Fetus Less Than 24 Weeks.” A March 2010 report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that “research shows that the sensory structures are not developed or specialised enough to experience pain in a fetus less than 24 weeks”:

Questions some women ask when having an abortion before 24 weeks

Will the fetus/baby feel pain?

No, the fetus does not experience pain. Pain relates to an unpleasant sensory or emotional response to tissue damage. To be aware of something or have pain, the body has to have developed special sensory structures and a joined-up nerve system between the brain and the rest of the body to communicate such a feeling. Although the framework for the nervous system in the growing fetus occurs early, it actually develops very slowly. Current research shows that the sensory structures are not developed or specialised enough to experience pain in a fetus less than 24 weeks. [Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March 2010]

Journal Of The American Medical Association: “Fetal Perception Of Pain Is Unlikely Before The Third Trimester.” An article in the August 24/31, 2005, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association explained that research “indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester”:

Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques. Similarly, limited or no data exist on the safety of such techniques for pregnant women in the context of abortion. Anesthetic techniques currently used during fetal surgery are not directly applicable to abortion procedures. [Journal of the American Medical Association, August 24/31, 2005]

2. Defunding Planned Parenthood

Trump’s Policy: Defund Planned Parenthood And Support Community Health Centers

Trump Promised To Defund Planned Parenthood “So Long As They Continue To Perform Abortions” And Shift Funding To “Community Health Centers.” In the announcement letter for his new coalition, Trump promised to defund Planned Parenthood “as long as they continue to perform abortions.” Instead of funding one of the largest and most comprehensive reproductive health care providers in the country, Trump proposed “reallocating their funding to community health centers” which he claimed “provide comprehensive health care for women.” [Trump Campaign Letter, September 2016]

Right-Wing Media Claim: Community Health Centers Can Replace Planned Parenthood

Fox Host Sean Hannity And Guest Michelle Fields Push Myth That There Are “Plenty Of Other Places Where People Can Get Better Services” Without Planned Parenthood. In November 2015, Fox News’ Sean Hannity pushed the myth that there are already numerous health centers capable of replacing Planned Parenthood. During the segment, guest Michelle Fields argued that defunding Planned Parenthood is “fiscally responsible” because there are “plenty of other places where people can get better services.” Hannity said funding these centers instead of Planned Parenthood “seems like a winnable issue” because the funding would “continue to be spent on women’s health issues, but not through Planned Parenthood.” From Fox’s Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We can't seem to get Republican candidates and Republican elected officials to take a simple stand. Continue to fund women's health issues but not Planned Parenthood. That seems like a winnable issue to me.

MICHELLE FIELDS: Absolutely. And, you know, it's a fiscal issue. You're being fiscally responsible. Planned Parenthood can be self-sufficient. It does not need taxpayer dollars. Plus, there are plenty of clinics, plenty of other places where people can get better services, better quality of service without taxpayer dollars. So this should be an issue everyone should be talking about.


HANNITY: The money will continued to be spent on women's health issues, but not through Planned Parenthood. That to me seems legitimate considering they're on tape breaking the law. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/11/15]

Fox News' Eric Bolling: “There Are Some 8,000 Clinics Where Women Can Get Treatment For Things Other Than Abortion In America.” During the August 12, 2015, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Eric Bolling discussed public funding of Planned Parenthood and referenced “8,000 clinics” in the U.S. other than Planned Parenthood where women can get health care. Guest Penny Young Nance, CEO of the anti-choice group Concerned Women for America, seconded Bolling's claim by saying there are actually “9,000 community health centers” that could use the funds Planned Parenthood currently receives:

ERIC BOLLING (HOST): Penny, there are some 8,000 clinics where women can get treatment for other things other than abortion in America. Maybe that $500 million that the U.S. taxpayer hands over to Planned Parenthood could be better spent elsewhere. Technically, taxpayer money is not supposed to support abortion. Technically.

PENNY YOUNG NANCE: That's right, Eric. Actually much more than 8,000. There's new research, 9,000 just community health centers. So the Joni Ernst bill that the Senate voted on would have shifted the funds from Planned Parenthood to these community health centers that treat the whole women. They don't do one abortion. But they care for women. You know the number one killer of women is heart disease. Women have many issues, not just fertility, of course that's important too, but let's care for women. We don't have to choose. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 8/12/15]

Fox News' Shannon Bream: “There Are 13 Times More Federally Qualified Health Centers Across The Country Than There Are Planned Parenthood Clinics.” During a discussion on the August 3, 2015, edition of Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier about a vote in the U.S. Senate to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Fox News legal correspondent Shannon Bream said there are “13 times more federally qualified health centers across the country than there are Planned Parenthood clinics.” Bream’s figure came from the anti-choice Charlotte Lozier Institute, which describes itself as the “research and education institute of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization dedicated to electing candidates and pursuing policies that will reduce and ultimately end abortion.” From Special Report with Bret Baier:

SHANNON BREAM: According to the conservative Charlotte Lozier Institute, there are 13 times more federally qualified health centers across the country than there are Planned Parenthood clinics. The federally qualified health centers operate in both rural and urban locations, providing health services but not abortions, and serve more than 21 million people each year. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 8/3/15]

Fact: In Many Communities, Planned Parenthood Is The Most Effective And Accessible Health Care Provider

George Washington University Public Health Professor: Argument That Community Health Care Centers “Can Absorb The Loss Of Planned Parenthood Clinics Amounts To A Gross Misrepresentation.” Experts have confirmed that even when community clinics do provide reproductive health services, they are not well-positioned to fill the gap left when Planned Parenthood is defunded. As Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in an article for the Health Affairs Blog, the “claim that community health centers readily can absorb the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do”:

I have worked with community health centers for nearly 40 years, and no one believes more strongly than I do in their ability to transform the primary health care landscape in medically underserved low-income communities. But a claim that community health centers readily can absorb the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what even the best community health centers in the country would be able to do were Planned Parenthood to lose over 40 percent of its operating revenues overnight as the result of a ban on federal funding.


It is important to set the record straight about what it would mean to women were health centers suddenly to have to respond to a hole in care of this magnitude, especially given absurd claims about their financial ability to do so, such as assertions that community health centers could do so for $1.67 per patient. Community health centers are extremely efficient, but the cost of caring for their patients averages about $600 per person annually.

While community health centers constitute a vital component of the nation's primary care safety net, three reasons underscore why it's misguided to suggest community health centers could--overnight--compensate for the loss of affordable women's health services at Planned Parenthood clinics. [Health Affairs Blog, 9/2/15]

Guttmacher Institute: In 103 U.S. Counties, Planned Parenthood Is The Only “Safety-Net Health Center” With Accessible Contraception Services. In 2015, the Guttmacher Institute responded to a request from the Congressional Budget Office about the “geographic service availability from Planned Parenthood health centers.” The study found that in 103 U.S. counties, Planned Parenthood is the only “safety-net health center” able to provide publicly subsidized contraceptive services. The study also found that Planned Parenthood typically saw patients three to five days sooner than “other types of safety-net providers.” From the Guttmacher Institute (citations removed):

In 18 states, Planned Parenthood health centers serve more than 40% of women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net family planning health center.

In 11 of those 18 states, Planned Parenthood serves more than half the women obtaining contraceptive care from a safety-net health center.


In 103 counties with a Planned Parenthood health center (21% of counties with a Planned Parenthood site), Planned Parenthood serves all of the women obtaining publicly supported contraceptive services from a safety-net health center. [Guttmacher Institute, 8/14/15]

NY Times: Planned Parenthood Serves More Patients And Has “Higher Quality Care Than Centers Without An Emphasis On Reproductive Health.” In a September 9 editorial, The New York Times refuted the argument that “community health centers can easily provide the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offers.” As evidence, the Times noted that Planned Parenthood “serves an enormous number of patients” and despite running “only 10 percent of all health centers that receive Title X funds” regularly provides services to “about a third of all patients” receiving Title X services. The Times also pointed to a recent study which found that Planned Parenthood was able to offer “a wider range of family planning services and higher quality care than centers without an emphasis on reproductive health.” From The New York Times:

Some state lawmakers have argued that community health centers can easily provide the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offers. But a study published this year found that providers focused on reproductive health care, like Planned Parenthood, offered a wider range of family planning services and higher quality care than centers without an emphasis on reproductive health.

Planned Parenthood also serves an enormous number of patients; though it operates only 10 percent of all health centers that receive Title X funds, it treats about a third of all patients receiving federally funded family planning services nationwide.


If the [proposed Title X] rule takes effect, it will benefit people all over the country who need reliable reproductive health care. [The New York Times, 9/9/16]

3. Doubling Down On The Hyde Amendment

Trump’s Policy: Make The Hyde Amendment “Permanent Law”

Trump Doubled Down On The Hyde Amendment By Promising To Make It “Permanent Law” To Protect “Taxpayers From Having To Pay For Abortions.” Trump’s announcement included the allegation that “Hillary Clinton not only supports abortion on-demand for any reason” but that “she wants to force the taxpayers to pay for abortions by repealing the bi-partisan Hyde Amendment.” In response, Trump promised to double down on the Hyde Amendment and committed himself to making the budgetary rider “permanent law” in order to prevent “taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” [Trump Campaign Letter, September 2016]

Right-Wing Media Claim: Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Still A Problem

Fox’s Eric Bolling: Lawmakers Should “Separate” Abortion Funding From “Women’s Services” With A “Chinese Wall.” During the December 22 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Eric Bolling reacted to an argument from co-host Dana Perino that “defunding Planned Parenthood” is problematic by arguing that abortion services should be “separate” from funding for “women’s services.” Although Bolling did not explicitly name the Hyde Amendment, he pushed for Republicans to "defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood” and set up a “Chinese wall” between that and funding for Planned Parenthood’s other services. From Fox News’ The Five:

DANA PERINO: A couple of things though -- Planned Parenthood, they bring up the defunding Planned Parenthood. Here's the box that Republicans are in. So when you're in a competitive primary, and you have to run to try to win that, you have to deal with what your party wants, OK? That party might want repeal. But Planned Parenthood defunding, that actually polls so negatively for the GOP. It has about, funding Planned Parenthood has about a 65 to 70 percent approval rate, so that makes it very difficult then when you switch to go to a general election. Where I think Hillary Clinton is more vulnerable than they will admit is on Obamacare. And if you look at Kentucky, for example, where we had a special election in 2014, the Republican candidate was not expected to win, he was down by about a touchdown, he won by about a touchdown. And this has the Democrats worried, because that and all the exit polls was mostly about Obamacare.


GREG GUTFELD: Eric, why can't they discuss the topic of national security?

ERIC BOLLING: It's a lose for them. She just highlighted all the things that they think they're winning. Dana points out Planned Parenthood. There is a way to defund the abortion part of Planned Parenthood. But the Republicans haven't figured out how to do that. Just separate the two. There's women's services and there's abortion. You want to fund women's services, knock yourself out. Just don't meld them. It's so easy, it's a Chinese wall. [Fox News, The Five, 12/22/15]

Former Fox News Host Andrea Tantaros Argued That “Taxpayer Dollars Should Not Have To Go … To Places Like Planned Parenthood.” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and former host Andrea Tantaros advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood by misrepresenting what the organization spends on abortion in comparison to other services. During a July 2015 segment, O’Reilly stated that “Planned Parenthood should be defunded” because he didn’t want “tax dollars going to them.” Tantaros supported this and argued that Americans “don’t really need Planned Parenthood” and that “taxpayer dollars should not have to go … to places like Planned Parenthood.” From Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

BILL O’REILLY (HOST): Planned Parenthood should be defunded, period. I don’t want my tax dollars going to them.


ANDREA TANTAROS: I want to jump in on the women's health point because that's actually a crock. Look, you don't have to be pro-life to be horrified by these videos. A number of my pro-choice friends are horrified by these videos, the same way they were horrified by Kermit Gosnell. And look, here's my view on Planned Parenthood. It provides services now, those services are provided under Obamacare. So, we don't really need Planned Parenthood.

O’REILLY: Ninety percent of their services are abortion-related.

TANTAROS: But here's my deal -- I don't want to pay for it. It's a business, let private funding go to Planned Parenthood. Taxpayer dollars should not have to go to crazy towns like San Francisco and to places like Planned Parenthood. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 7/22/15]

Fact: The Hyde Amendment Already Has Negative Consequences For Abortion Access And Disproportionately Affects Women Of Color

National Women’s Law Center: The Hyde Amendment Forces Low-Income Women To “Postpone Paying For Other Basic Needs … In Order To Save The Money Needed For An Abortion.” In a July 21, 2015, fact sheet, the National Women’s Law Center explained that the Hyde Amendment puts low-income persons at a substantial financial disadvantage in obtaining abortions, “because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion,” which increases the out-of-pocket costs:

The Hyde Amendment Creates Economic Barriers and Health Concerns for Low-Income Women

Low-income women denied abortion coverage under the Hyde Amendment may have to postpone paying for other basic needs like food, rent, heating, and utilities in order to save the money needed for an abortion. Moreover, because of the high cost of the procedure, low-income women are often forced to delay obtaining an abortion because they need time to raise the money. In one study, more than one-third of women that had an abortion in the second trimester stated that they would have preferred to have the procedure earlier but could not because they needed to raise money. The greater the delay in obtaining an abortion, the more expensive the procedure becomes, catching poor women in a vicious cycle. In a 2011 study, women paid an average of $397 for a first trimester abortion but $854 for a second trimester abortion.


Other women may be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, which could harm their future well-being. For example, one study showed that one year after attempting to obtain an abortion, women denied an abortion were more likely to live below the federal poverty level and receive public assistance than those who received an abortion. Being forced to forego an abortion could push more women and their families closer to poverty and others deeper into the poverty they endure.

The Hyde Amendment Particularly Burdens Women of Color

Restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion disproportionately affect women of color. In 2012, 20 percent of Medicaid enrollees were African-American, 29 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Aleutian or Eskimo.

African-American and Latina women are more likely than White women to rely on Medicaid for coverage of family planning services, and they are also more likely than White women to face financial barriers when seeking abortions. Furthermore, women of color are more likely to experience unintended pregnancy, due to racial, ethnic, gender, and economic healthcare inequalities. [National Women’s Law Center, 7/21/15]

Guttmacher Institute: “The Number Of Women Potentially Affected By The Hyde Amendment Is Substantial.” On July 14, the Guttmacher Institute released a report detailing the devastating impact of the Hyde Amendment and advocating for its repeal. According to Guttmacher’s director of public policy, Heather Boonstra, “The number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial” given the significant number of women dependent on federally subsidized medical services. She wrote that for women between 15 and 33 who depend on Medicaid, “60% live in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.” As a result, “roughly seven million women” are potentially impacted by Hyde’s restrictions on federal funding for abortion care. She concluded that due to the wide-reaching negative effects of the Hyde Amendment, the fight to repeal it “is and should be the heart of the abortion rights struggle in this country”:

The number of women potentially affected by the Hyde Amendment is substantial. Of women aged 15–44 enrolled in Medicaid, 60% live in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that do not cover abortion, except in limited circumstances.17 This amounts to roughly seven million women of reproductive age, including 3.4 million who are living below the federal poverty level.

The Hyde Amendment falls particularly hard on women of color. Because of social and economic inequality linked to racism and discrimination, women of color are disproportionately likely to be insured by the Medicaid program: Thirty percent of black women and 24% of Hispanic women aged 15–44 are enrolled in Medicaid, compared with 14% of white women.


The proactive campaigns to heighten attention and call for action to cover abortion care under health insurance—especially for low-income women on Medicaid—seem to be gaining some traction among candidates who support abortion rights. Increasingly, more seem comfortable talking about the issue and fighting for reform. With a new administration and Congress taking office next year, and elections in all 50 states too, advocates are hopeful about rebuilding support—however long it takes—toward achieving true access to abortion care for low-income women, regardless of the state in which they live. This is and should be the heart of the abortion rights struggle in this country. [Guttmacher Institute, 7/14/16]

The Guardian: The Hyde Amendment “Is One Of The Biggest Barriers To Abortion Left Standing.” In a July 26 article, Guardian senior reporter Molly Redden explained that the Democratic platform’s commitment to explicitly repealing Hyde was significant because the restriction is “one of the biggest barriers to abortion left standing.” She wrote that “the loudest calls for the repeal of Hyde … originated with groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health [NLIRH] and SisterSong” -- all of which specifically represent women of color. As the director of NLIRH, Jessica Gonzales-Rojas, explained, “‘Women of color leaders have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades.’” From The Guardian:

The announcement made Clinton one of the only modern presidential candidates to oppose the nearly 40-year-old ban on federal abortion coverage. And this week, the rest of her party will follow suit. In what is the first significant shift to the party line on abortion in decades, Democrats will approve a platform at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia that explicitly calls for elected officials to overturn Hyde.

But in a sharp departure from how abortion issues normally percolate, the loudest calls for the repeal of Hyde did not originate with groups such as Planned Parenthood or Naral Pro-Choice America – groups that have set the agenda for abortion rights supporters for decades. Instead, the calls originated with groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and SisterSong.

“Women of color leaders have been calling for the repeal of Hyde for decades when most mainstream reproductive rights groups did not prioritize this issue,” said Jessica González-Rojas, director of the National Latina Institute and an All Above All co-chair.

The result is a movement that overtly fuses one of the modern Democratic party’s most established positions – support for abortion rights – with the interests of the activists who increasingly represent the demographic future of the party.

The target is substantial. Hyde is one of the biggest barriers to abortion left standing, after the supreme court in June struck down health restrictions with no basis in evidence. [The Guardian, 7/26/16]