This week in Chicago’s suburbs and across Illinois, the Chicago Abortion Fund launched a new billboard campaign to inform the public that abortion care is covered by Medicaid in Illinois. The billboard reads: “Abortion Is Healthcare. It’s Covered By Illinois Medicaid”.
Under the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 law still in effect today that prohibits federal funding from being allocated for abortion services, Medicaid cannot cover abortion unless states use their own Medicaid dollars to fund that care. Only sixteen states opt-in to using their Medicaid programs for abortion care, with thirty-four states, and the District of Columbia, following the federal standard. The Hyde Amendment disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color, who simultaneously experience an elevated risk for unintended pregnancy, a severe lack of abortion coverage, and overlapping barriers to access.
Illinois began to opt-in to using its state Medicaid to fund abortion care three years ago, but the Chicago Abortion Fund identified a gap in understanding among Illinois residents. Executive Director of the fund Megan Jeyifo said that folks using their hotline “have a Medicaid card in their wallet and don’t know that with that card they can go to a clinic and receive abortion care at no cost”.
Illinois is seen as an abortion access haven in the midwest, with people from across the country traveling to receive abortion care in the state, especially as neighboring states continue to restrict access. A strong, long-standing reproductive justice community in Illinois can be credited for the protective policies that the state is known for.
Sources: WBEZ 09/08/2020; All* Above All; Guttmacher Institute 01/2020; ACLU 09/17/2017