Last week, a Texas court of appeals ruled that denying Medicaid funding to poor women seeking abortion violates their equal rights. Federal law prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. In a 2-to-1 decision, the appeals court ruled that using those guidelines violates women’s equal rights by restricting their access to medically necessary procedures, while men face no such restrictions. Judge Bea Ann Smith wrote the ruling, arguing that the decision applied to medically necessary abortion procedures only. Anti-choice advocates are protesting the decision, saying it will greatly increase the number of abortions among poor women. Pro-choice activists note that improving access to abortion could curb unsafe, illegal abortions among poor women. In 1977, Rosie Jimenez became the first victim of the Hyde Amendment that bans the use of federal money for abortions except to save a woman’s life. Jimenez was a poor, single mother saving money for college who decided to have a back alley abortion instead of using her tuition money so that she could some day make it off welfare and support herself and her daughter on her own.
Media Resources: Associated Press – December 8, 2000 and Feminist Majority Foundation