On January 15, Shontae Minor and Khristian Rohena welcomed four unexpected but wanted children – two sets of identical twins – and within a month hadburied two of their sons. Their doctor recommended early in Minor’s pregnancy that the couple have a fetal reduction, aborting two of the fetuses in order to greatly increase the survival rate of the remaining fetuses and to greatly decrease the possibility of Minor having severe, even fatal, complications.
The problem is that due to their low-income status, Minor receives her medical insurance through Medicaid, a system that is funded jointly by federal and state governments. And Medicaid will not pay for abortion. Back in 1976, Congress tacked on the Hyde Amendment to the Medicaid Act. The Hyde Amendment, according to Jessica Pieklo, Senior Legal Analyst at RH Reality Check, “prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from being used to cover abortions except in very narrow circumstances like in the case of rape.” Minor and Rohena, despite the advice of their doctor, could not get a fetal reduction because in 1976, Congress decided they would not fund this particular medical care. And nothing has changed since.
This is also a specifically Texas story. There are states who have worked around the Hyde Amendment; Texas is not one of them. Pieklo says that the states that do fund at the state level “have state constitutions with arguably broader privacy protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and, in partnership with state court decisions, have found a right to choose abortion is meaningless if a woman cannot financially access that service.” Texas has chosen the opposite path, a path that may be morally appealing to some but ultimately bears a high cost to the state as a whole.
I will be writing fairly regularly for the site and will be updating my “media” page with links.