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Report: States Restricting Abortion Access Don’t Help New Parents Either

Nicole Knight

The analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families singles out a dozen states lacking even a single workplace protection for new parents–beyond what's required by federal law. These states also severely curb abortion-care access in health insurance.

Many of the states that foist parenthood on people by restricting insurance coverage of abortion care are the same ones extending little in the way of workplace safety nets to new parents, according to an analysis out this week from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The nonprofit advocacy group released its findings in a brief, A Double Bind: When States Deny Abortion Coverage and Fail to Support Expecting and New Parents, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the federal Hyde Amendment, a near-ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for Medicaid enrollees. Hyde restrictions disproportionately affect people of color and those with low incomes.

The state-by-state analysis indicates that most states withhold abortion care coverage in various ways, such as excluding it from insurance marketplaces, private health plans, state-employee insurance, and Medicaid. At the same time, these states extend few family-life protections to new parents, such as guaranteed paid family leave, paid sick days, and pregnancy accommodations.

“When a woman who was denied abortion coverage cannot keep her job because her employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations for her pregnancy–when she has no paid sick days for prenatal appointments or well-baby care–no paid family and medical leave to use after giving birth–the deck is truly stacked against her,” Debra L. Ness, president of National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement released with the analysis.

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Thirty-five states do not offer public insurance coverage of abortion care through Medicaid, the analysis noted. Research suggests that one-quarter of women on Medicaid who planned to end their pregnancies ended up giving birth instead.

The coverage gap is born the hardest by people of color, who are more likely to be Medicaid enrollees and lack economic protections like paid time off, the analysis indicates.

A 2016 Guttmacher Institute policy review indicated that the Hyde Amendment restricts the abortion care access of seven million women, more than half of them women of color. At the same time, a 2012 report suggested that Latinos are the least likely of any other racial or ethnic group to have paid sick days (38.4 percent) or paid family leave (25.1 percent).

The analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families singles out a dozen states lacking even a single workplace protection for new parents–beyond what’s required by federal law. These 12 states—Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming—also severely curb abortion-care access in public and private health insurance.

Conversely, states such as New York and California, with “expansive” safety nets for new parents who work, are also the ones with public insurance coverage of abortion care, as the brief notes.

Ness described the analysis as a call to action to pass federal legislation, including the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, to enact paid leave on a national scale along with the EACH Woman Act, and to guarantee abortion care coverage to Medicaid enrollees.

“We urgently need federal and state policies that support women and families, instead of deepening their struggles,” she said. “Not enough lawmakers are answering that call.”

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