Unhappy Anniversary to the Dornan Amendment

There is no shortage of legislation aimed at eliminating abortion access for people in the United States. In fact, the number is growing. The most discussed in DC, arguably, is the Hyde Amendment—the legislation that bans the use of federal money for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger. Some states lessen the burden, which falls overwhelmingly on low-income people, by using their local Medicaid dollars to help pay for abortions.

Unfortunately, in DC, we also have the Dornan Amendment.

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the re-instatement of the Dornan Amendment, also known as the DC Medicaid Ban: the law stating that no congressionally-appropriated funds may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia.

Because Congress controls DC’s budget, the city does not have the autonomy to decide whether or not it wants to use its own locally raised Medicaid funds to help pay for abortions. And in a political climate that is increasingly hostile to abortion access, overturning the Dornan or Hyde Amendments seems unlikely.

At the DC Abortion Fund, we help low-income patients, many of whom are directly affected by the Dornan Amendment, pay for their abortions. In Fiscal Year 2016, 71 percent of our DC patients who reported their insurance provider said they were insured under DC Medicaid. This means they are faced with unjust coverage bans simply because their city is not permitted to control over its budget.

In Fiscal Year 2016, DCAF was able to fund over 1,300 patients, giving them the opportunity to access abortion services they may not have been able to afford otherwise. Because the Dornan Amendment affects so many people in DC, we see its toll on our budget. Many of these patients need to find additional funding that they would otherwise have from their Medicaid coverage, and money we give to one patient is money we cannot give to another.

DC may have fewer barriers to abortion than some states, however, even DC residents still face unjust burdens forced upon them by an anti-choice Congress.

Donating to DCAF helps us to alleviate some of the financial burden put upon DC residents by the Dornan Amendment. Your donation goes toward the patients who face an uphill battle when it comes to funding their right to choose.

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