Question: Does the government fund abortions? Does the government pay for abortion?
One controversial issue surrounded by rumor and misinformation is that of government funding of abortion. In the U.S., do taxpayer dollars pay for abortion? A brief look at the history of federal funding of abortion and why, for the past three decades, abortion has not been funded by the government.
Answer: Abortion was made legal in the United States by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in 1973, and during the first three years of legalized abortion, Medicaid (the government program that provides health care to low-income pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled) covered the cost of terminating a pregnancy.
However, in 1977 Congress passed the Hyde Amendment which put limitations on Medicaid coverage of abortion, allowing it only in the cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life was physically endangered. Over the years, those two exceptions were eliminated. In 1979, abortions performed if a mother's life was endangered were no longer allowed, and in 1981 abortions performed due to rape and/or incest were denied.
As the Hyde Amendment must be passed by Congress annually, the pendulum of opinion over abortion coverage has swung back and forth very slightly over the years. In 1993 Congress permitted abortion coverage for victims of rape and incest, and the current version of the Hyde Amendment also permits abortion for women whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies.
The ban on federal funding for abortion affects more than low income women. Abortion is not covered for women in the military, the Peace Corps, federal prisons, and those who receive care from Indian Health Services.