Of Note: The Hyde Amendment, which is a law that is often attached to must-pass bills like budgets rather than being codified on its own, bans federal funds distributed by the Dept. of Health and Human Services from being used for abortions, except for in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother from birth complications.
Political battles over abortion have mostly played out on the state level: Republican state officials have passed 205 statutes restricting abortions over the past three years, including measures that force a woman considering abortion to undergo an ultrasound. That said, many members of Congress have also taken steps to restrict access to abortion services on a national level.
This fight swung in favor of anti-abortion activists when the Supreme Court made its ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The court’s decision allows businesses to exclude coverage for contraceptives from employee health insurance if this violates an employer’s religious principles.
Despite these restrictions, abortions are not an uncommon experience for American women — in 2013 the abortion rate was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Women who don’t use contraceptives, or who have difficulty accessing contraceptives, account for more than half of all abortions.
Abortion is still a polarizing topic: polls show that about half of Americans think abortions should be legal under certain circumstances -- meaning that they support some restrictions -- and 28 percent believe abortions should be legal under any circumstances. Nineteen percent believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
Pro-choice activists claim that the Hyde Amendment and other anti-abortion measures disproportionately affect women of color and immigrants who rely almost entirely on public funding for abortion services.