Once again the federal government is harming women and girls in the District of Columbia. Congress is including a ban on allowing DC to use it’s own money to have DC Medicaid cover the cost of an abortion procedure. The passage of this oppressive and discriminatory legislation means that many DC women, girls, and their families, will be denied the health care that they need and deserve.
Women are disproportionately impacted by the cost of health care. Among the reasons for this gender disparity are the facts that women are more likely to be low income, they earn less than men, and they are more likely to list cost has a barrier to getting health care. Women of color feel the impacts of health care costs even more acutely. Women are also less likely to have health insurance through their employer, since only about half of women are employed full time; compared to almost 75% of men who work, and this has left women more reliant upon public health insurance programs, or uninsured.
Nation-wide, African Americans experience the largest disparities in health care, and they have higher incidences of disease, disability and premature death. African-American women are less likely to receive health care than other racial or ethnic groups, and when they do get care they are more likely to receive it late. This includes getting prenatal and other maternal care, and African American women are up to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
To be eligible for Medicaid in DC you must be low-income as defined by the federal poverty guidelines- about $10,000 (or less) for a single person, and $22,050 (or less) for a family of four. You must also meet one of the following qualifications as well- 20-years-old or younger, be the caretaker of a child under age 19, pregnant, aged 65 or over, or have a disability.
Here are some numbers to keep in mind:
- 1 out of 5 District residents lived at or below the federal poverty line in 2005, which was under $20,000.
- 1 out of 4 District residents are living at or below 125% of the federal poverty line in 2005.
- Of DC residents living in poverty, 25% are African American, 16% are Hispanic, and only 8% are white.
- Between 2007-2009, Medicaid provided health insurance coverage of 32% of Black Americans in the District.
- Between 2007-2009, 24% of Hispanic District Residents received health insurance from Medicaid.
- 32% of female-headed households were living on less than $20,000/year in DC.
This is a bill that will only serve to harm low-income women of color in the District. It is not about promoting life as so many anti-choice lawmakers will try to allege since limiting access to reproductive health care will only increase the disproportionate number of maternal deaths among women of color.
This post was written by DCAF volunteer Maggie R.
A correction to statistical data above was made on July 7, 2011