The lack of DC home rule is a sore spot with many DC residents. But here’s one of the most important reasons to support autonomy for DC: Because DC doesn’t have full home rule, Congress has stopped DC from using locally-raised funds to help Medicaid-enrolled women pay for abortion care. For many DC residents, finding the resources to pay for an abortion was hard enough even with public assistance. With Congress blocking that assistance, DCAF’s work is all the more crucial.
Even though federal government health benefits can’t be used to help fund an abortion, state governments can choose to cover abortion care through state-funded health programs. But DC’s budget is subject to approval by Congress, so DC doesn’t have that autonomy. In the late 1980s, an anti-choice Congress banned the use of DC public funds to cover abortion. Then, in 2009, President Obama helped lead a successful effort to have the ban lifted, making reproductive autonomy more realistic for DC residents. But the coverage didn’t last long. During the government shutdown in 2011, the ban became a bargaining chip. As part of the deal that ended the budget crisis, the ban was reinstated. Today, DC residents enrolled in Medicaid can’t use DC public assistance to cover abortion care, leaving too many without the resources to control their reproductive lives.
DCAF’s mission is to make reproductive choice a reality by providing financial support for individuals who lack resources to access abortion care. Since the ban was reinstated, DCAF’s work has become even more critical. With the ban in place, DCAF is one of the few support options for DC residents who can’t afford the full cost of an abortion. Our reproductive rights shouldn’t depend on our wallets, and women in DC shouldn’t have to rely on DCAF to access reproductive care. But until health policies provide fair coverage, DCAF will continue our work. Join us now.
By volunteer Mollie L.