The Right’s Attack on Roe v. Wade at 40: The Hyde and Helms Legacy

About Malika Redmond

Malika Redmond, MA, former gender justice researcher at PRA, founded the International Black Youth Summit at age 14, has worked for Choice USA, National Center for Human Rights Education, and SisterSong, and was on the Board of the National Women's Health Network. She is currently the Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!

Those who celebrate the enduring legacy of Roe v. Wade must also be mindful of the barriers to reproductive autonomy that remain.

Full article published at Truthout.

While celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must also mourn the staying power of rhetoric demonizing women who seek reproductive autonomy – especially the young, the poor, rural women and women of color – and the legislation that blocks their ability to access abortion. Battles over the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are only the latest example, following two earlier victories that targeted these vulnerable populations both at home and abroad: the Helms and Hyde amendments.

The lesser known Helms Amendment to the 1973 Foreign Assistance Act blocks US funds from use for abortion care abroad, even if abortion is legal in that country, as in the United States, exporting the right-wing agenda to other countries. In a country like Nepal, which eased its abortion restrictions in 2002, Helms puts up arduous barriers to access by forbidding the use of medical equipment and facilities funded by US aid for abortion services.

Back on the home front, the 1976 Hyde Amendment ended federal funding of abortion care through Medicaid, the “largest healthcare program in the United States,” with difficult-to-exercise rape, incest and health exceptions. Hyde set in motion the strategy of using legislation to chip away at Roe and deprive poor women (disproportionately women of color) of access to abortion. Thirty-three states replicated the federal amendment, and of the 17 that use state funds to cover abortion under Medicaid, all but four do so under court order.

Continue reading the full article…

For an informative analysis and useful tools for countering the Right, please see the “What is Reproductive Justice Slideshow and Webinar” posted by the Unitarian Universalist Association and PRA’s Defending Reproductive Justice: An Activist Resource Kit online.

This post is part of “Still Wading: Forty years of Resistance, Resilience and Reclamation in Communities of Color,” a blog series by Strong Families commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.