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Boston City Council urges Congress to pass EACH Woman Act


BOSTON — A coalition of organizations dedicated to eliminating barriers to safe, legal abortion today praised Boston City Council for passing a resolution calling on Congress and President Obama to reinstate abortion coverage for women enrolled in public insurance programs by enacting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Woman Act. The EACH Woman Act would ensure abortion access for every woman who obtains insurance through the federal government by prohibiting political interference in insurance coverage of abortion.

“Every woman — regardless of her income, race or zip code — should have the ability to make personal decisions about her health and abortion without politicians wedging themselves between her and her doctor,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. “As a family physician, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact inadequate insurance coverage can have on a person and their health and wellbeing. Denying insurance coverage for abortion, as the Hyde Amendment does, is an intrusive and discriminatory restriction that harms women and their families.”

For 40 years, politicians have used the Hyde Amendment to deny coverage for abortion care for those insured through Medicaid. Although Massachusetts provides state Medicaid coverage of abortion, many women in Boston and across the state have federal insurance plans that do not cover abortion care. Women who receive health insurance from TRICARE, veterans who utilize the VA, women who work for the federal government, Peace Corps volunteers, federal prisoners, and beneficiaries of Indian Health Services are all denied abortion coverage in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has been a trailblazer in ensuring all people have access to health care and the Boston City Council has a long history of leadership on social justice issues, including support of state bills providing protections for transgender people and funding for services for homeless youth, as well as opposition to Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration law.

"Here in the Commonwealth, we are so fortunate our leaders have expanded access despite the meddling of some politicians in Congress who forced the passage of the Hyde Amendment 40 years ago. But for the women in the 33 other states who have to rely on luck for health care - I am proud to have led the Boston City Council in joining the national movement to send a loud and clear message that we do not take this coverage for granted, and that we will work until every woman in this country has access to safe, effective, affordable abortion care," Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, who introduced the resolution, said.

Advocates in cities and states across the country are marking the 40th year under the Hyde Amendment by calling for the end of abortion coverage bans as part of a broad, coordinated effort by the All*Above All coalition.

“Ending these bans is one step toward ending the system-wide inequities that so many in our communities face,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, a member organization of the All* Above All coalition. “The National Institute has supported local resolutions like this one across the country and applauds Boston for joining the national movement to protect access to abortion for all women, particularly those for whom the cost of an unwanted pregnancy or abortion would be devastating.”

Greater, more equitable, access to safe, legal abortion is supported by a majority of Massachusetts voters. A recent poll found 65 percent of Massachusetts voters support government funding for access to abortion for low-income earners.

“We are proud that Boston is standing up and leading the nation for the right of poor people to have equal access to reproductive care,” stated Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “No one should be treated differently based on their economic status.”

Similar resolutions about lifting restrictions on abortion coverage have passed in recent years in localities across the country, including Cook County, Ill.; Madison, Wis.; Seattle, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; New York, NY; Philadelphia, Penn.; Travis County, Texas; Ithaca, NY; and San Francisco, Calif.

"Today, The Boston City Council put reproductive freedom first,” said Christian Miron, Deputy Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “We are proud of the Boston City Council for taking action and affirming the right for all to access safe, legal abortion care, regardless of income or zip code.”