Stay home? On the anniversary of Hyde Amendment, reproductive rights organizers seek public to break routines and engage, as midterms loom

Organizers encourage women to stay home on Sept. 30 as part of the national "A Day Without Us," which this year sheds light on reproductive rights.
“We don’t anyone to get fired,” said national organizer Tracy Corder. “This a chance to organize. It’s not just about abortion, but about access. It’s about being able to make the decision to have children and not have children, about being listened to when you go to your doctor, and we want all our participants to engage and share with us in this reproductive justice movement.”
Photo Adrian Childress

On Friday, reproductive rights organizers and activists are using a confluence of events — the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer, the day’s anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and the reconvening of the Supreme Court next week — as a nationwide call to action to stay home.

“A Day Without Us,” organizers say, is a chance for participants to forgo a day of work or school to engage both virtually and in person for “a day of disruption, learning, activation and community building.” 

Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case decided in 1973, legalized abortion access in the first trimester of pregnancy in every U.S. state. That constitutional right was rescinded by the court this June after being upheld for nearly 50 years. The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal Medicaid to cover abortions, with exception of rape and incest, but does not limit a state’s ability to use its own funds to cover abortion.

A majority of Americans, 62% according to the Pew Research Center, disapproved of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

In Dobbs, Jackson Women’s Health Organization Mississippi’s only abortion clinic challenged the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law that banned most abortion operations after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. After Roe was overturned, a judge rejected the clinic’s request to temporarily block the state’s trigger law and the clinic closed thereafter.

With Roe overturned, New Yorkers grapple with a nation divided in its legal rights

“A Day Without Us” starts at 11:30 a.m. ET and organizers are using the call to action as a way for participants to exert bodily autonomy while removing themselves from labor and daily routines — and instead use their voices in online teach-in and local events nationwide.

“We don’t anyone to get fired,” said national organizer Tracy Corder. “This a chance to organize. It’s not just about abortion, but about access. It’s about being able to make the decision to have children and not have children, about being listened to when you go to your doctor, and we want all our participants to engage and share with us in this reproductive justice movement.”

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on July 27, 16 states have banned or limited abortion and eight other states have had their bans blocked while lawsuits are pending. File photo

Since Roe was overturned in June, 16 states have banned or limited abortion and eight other states have had their bans blocked while lawsuits are pending. The fallout from Dobbs has offered a new lens into abortion-limited states such as Ohio where a 10-year-old rape victim was forced to leave the state this year to secure an abortion and has raised concerns about potential increases in adverse maternal health outcomes.

The Supreme Court will begin hearings reopened to the public — for a 27-case session starting Oct. 3. This session will include cases involving race and college admission, anti-discrimination, and the future of congressional districts in the state legislature for the conservative-leaning court which now includes newly-sworn Ketanji Brown Jackson, the bench’s first Black woman.

Some believe the true effect of the Supreme Court’s decision will be felt in the upcoming 2022 primaries, as politicians have used the issue as a way to increase voter turnout. Republicans in Congress said if they take control in the midterm elections, they expect to keep the Hyde Amendment intact in bills passed by Congress, while Democrats have used abortion access as major polling point in battleground races.

“I’m going be organizing before the midterm and I’m going be organizing after the midterm. They’re going be people who I help, I support to get elected one day, and then I’m holding their feet to the fire the next,” Corder said. “Politicians aren’t the movement, we are. They’re accountable to us, to legislate for us, and it makes it easier to remember that it’s not only about Election Day, but it’s about what they do in office.”

For organizers of “A Day Without Us,” made up of a coalition of seven Black women, Sept. 30 is a significant day — as it coincides with the four-decade anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.

With the Hyde Amendment in effect, abortions financed by federal Medicaid funds dropped from about 300,000 per year to a few thousand, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Sixteen states, including New York, use their funds to extend abortion coverage to low-income Medicaid enrollees.

In Missouri, where abortions are now permitted only in cases of a medical emergency, there are no exceptions for rape or incest under state law.

The origins of “A Day Without Us” protests link to Mexico, where the country’s women are dealing with systemic femicide. In 2021, more than a quarter of the 3,750 women killed in Mexico were classified as femicides, but the year prior, women in Mexico skipped work, school and social functions, leaving Mexico’s streetscapes and social scenes barren and desolate. 

This version of “A Day Without Us,” organizers hope, can break down barriers to community organizing through education and engagement.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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