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
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .