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Conscience Magazine

The EACH Woman Act

By Catholics for Choice December 3, 2015

In July, prochoice advocates in the US House of Representatives authored a bill that fights the ceaseless tide of antichoice legislation and expands access to reproductive healthcare. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act would extend abortion coverage to women currently denied access by the Hyde Amendment’s strictures on federal funding for abortion, effectively eliminating one of the largest barriers to reproductive healthcare access for women in the United States. In addition to removing these long-standing restrictions, the bill addresses the recent onslaught of state and local legislation—from TRAP laws to later abortion bans—aimed at making abortion services more challenging to access through private insurance. This is critical for women who live in one of the 25 states that have restricted abortion coverage through private insurers, and those who live in one of the 10 states where coverage of abortion is banned in every private insurance plan. The EACH Woman Act (HR 2972) was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and is cosponsored by more than 100 others.

Jan Schakowsky
“ Having a choice in becoming a parent is a fundamental right. It should not be determined by where a woman lives, where she works, how she is insured or how much money she has. The EACH Woman Act would end the stranglehold that politicians have on the ability of women to make their own healthcare decisions and ensure that every woman has access to abortion care.”
— Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

For almost three decades, federal restrictions have made access to abortion difficult for many, especially those depending on the federal government for comprehensive healthcare services, such as Peace Corps volunteers, members of the military and those who get care through Medicaid. Because of these barriers, abortion access varies widely from state to state, and they disproportionately affect women with low incomes. According to a study from the Center for Reproductive Rights cited in the EACH Woman Act, states that place fewer obstacles to abortion access had higher overall scores for the well-being of women and their families. States with more limitations on abortion clustered at the low end of the wellness scale. Legislation that values women and respects their conscience-based decisions about their health is good policy. Good policy acknowledges the need for access to comprehensive healthcare, including abortion, for everyone.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
“ For too long, the Hyde Amendment and other harmful antichoice laws have infringed upon women’s reproductive health rights, particularly those living in states with the strictest restrictions on abortion access. The EACH Woman Act takes on the war on women at the national, state and local levels by ensuring every woman, regardless of her income, health insurance or zip code, has access to a full range of healthcare options. After all, these are constitutional rights.”
— Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)

Catholics for Choice is committed to supporting the EACH Woman Act. As Catholics, we believe the same services should be available to each woman to uphold her human dignity and her fundamental equal worth. No matter how she gets her health coverage—whether through a state or federal program or her employer—a woman has what it takes to make her own reproductive decisions: her conscience. She doesn’t lose this right no matter what her circumstances, her income or from where she receives her insurance. The preferential option for the poor, a primary tenet of Catholic social teaching, compels us to consider access to abortion within the context of poverty and from the viewpoint of those with limited means. The EACH Woman Act is a breakthrough in shifting a wrong-headed and hard-hearted policy that has been detrimental to women, especially poor women, and their health options.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
“ The Catholic tradition of social justice calls on me to stand for the rights of all people. The EACH Woman Act would ensure that women can make their own health choices.”
— Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)

As we go to print, the EACH Woman Act has only been introduced in the House of Representatives, but a Senate companion bill is expected in the coming weeks.

Catholics for Choice

was founded in 1973 to serve as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.