If all states observed the Hyde Amendment restrictions, many thousands of Medicaid-eligible women who would have obtained abortions under the 1977 funding policy would not receive them--in addition to the 133,000 who could not get Medicaid-funded abortions in the year preceding the restrictions.
PIP: This article provides a history of Medicaid abortion funding practices and the Hyde amendments and a discussion of early attempts to study the effects of funding restrictions. The goal of the present study was to estimate the minimum number of pregnant Medicaid-eligible women who would have obtained abortions in the absence of the Hyde Amendment restrictions, and to compare that figure with the actual number of abortion recipients. The difference would reflect the number of unwanted births occurring because of the abortion restrictions. The study design is described and the difficulties in carrying it out are enumerated. 2 states observing the federal restrictions, Ohio and Georgia, were included in the study, while Michigan, which continued to fund abortions, served as a control. About 23% of Medicaid-eligible women in Ohio and 18% in Georgia who would have obtained abortions in 1977 were unable to do so in 1978 and carried their unwanted pregnancies to term. Survey data indicate that most Medicaid-eligible women obtaining abortions in Ohio paid for the procedure themselves and paid close to the full cost. In exploring the implications of their findings, the authors note that the fact that most poor women managed to pay for their own abortions indicates their high motivation to control their own fertility, but reveals nothing of the hardships involved.