July 28, 2016 — The United States is among a minority of countries where abortion is legal yet public funding for abortion is restricted, according to a study published Friday in the journal Contraception, The Atlantic reports (Khazan, The Atlantic, 7/22).
For the study, researchers from the University of California-San Francisco's Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) and Ibis Reproductive Health administered two sets of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries that have legalized abortion care (Knight Shine, Rewire, 7/22).
The researchers found that not including the United States, 34 countries use public funding to cover abortion care fully, 25 use public funds to cover part of the cost of abortion care or cover only certain populations, and 11 do not allocate any public funds to cover the cost of the procedure (The Atlantic, 7/22).
The United States is one of 10 countries that allow public funding for abortion care only in "limited" circumstances. Under the federal Hyde Amendment, federal funding may only go toward abortion care provided in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment (Knight Shine, Rewire, 7/22). Overall, the researchers noted that 13 percent of women in all countries covered by the study resided in a country that provided limited abortion funding or no abortion funding.
According to the study, Canada and European countries were more likely than the United States to allocate public funds for abortion care. Out of the 40 high-income countries examined in the study, the United States was one of nine that do not cover abortion care in full or in part (The Atlantic, 7/22).
Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of ANSIRH, said the U.S. funding restrictions mean the country is a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal -- especially among high-income nations."
The researchers also reviewed U.S. state policies regarding public funding for abortion care and found that only 17 states address the federal funding restriction by using state dollars for abortion care. According to the researchers, about 6.7 million women -- fewer than half of U.S. women who have coverage through Medicaid -- live in a state that uses state funds to cover abortion care.
The researchers noted that such funding restrictions can impose barriers to care for women with low incomes, who represent about half of women seeking abortions.
The researchers urged U.S. policymakers to prioritize making abortion care affordable, citing "evidence that cost may create a barrier to access." Grossman said, "Women in the [United States], including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services ... This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care" (Rewire, 7/22).