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Young, Broke, and Denied Abortion Access: Millennials and the Hyde Amendment

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September 30, 2013

Is there ever any end to the parade of articles decrying Millennials? Judging by the sheer volume that the media churns out decrying my generation as one self-absorbed, lazy, and curated within a bubble of indulgent vapidity, you can say there’s a perception that Millennials are the bane of the United States. Which is funny, seeing as on average, we’re receiving more education than our parents, have less job opportunities, being crushed by debt, and still being pointed at as “just expecting a handout.” This hypocrisy is especially teeth-grindingly blatant when it comes to the Hyde Amendment.

Basically, in 1977, The Hyde Amendment was passed by Congress, stating that no federal funds could be used to fund abortions. This was done solely to decrease abortion access, as Rep. Hyde himself said, “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.” And the thing is, Millennials? More and more are being forced into a position where they often have to turn to federal funds for health coverage.

Those who rely on public assistance of any kind in the U.S. are already villianized as leeches on the Capitalistic Wet-Dream. But the Millennials who must turn to public assistance is due for a particularly nasty set of judgement, especially because of how we tend to view Millennials.

The picture of the typical Millennial is of someone who grew up with luxury and amenities, gets “useless degrees” (which apparently constitutes the entirety of the humanities), and pouts when they are denied instant gratification. When it comes to abortion access, antiabortion activists gleefully use this stereotype to their advantage. They paint young people who get abortions as getting abortions only because they’re too selfish for not wanting to continue with a pregnancy, or too slutty for becoming pregnant in the first place. They should just suck it up or keep their legs closed, they say, decrying along with everyone else the moral degradation of Millennials.

Here’s the thing: there are a bunch of Millennials who were never born into the lap of luxury—surprise! Actually, quite a few of us (myself included) grew up in households where the American Dream did not rain down glory and trees full of money upon us. Many Millennials grew up with families struggling to maintain the façade of the American Middle Class Dream, or never even having a chance to play dress-up with it for a single day. Our parents struggled with the bills—with raising us the way they wanted to. But we’re still told “just work hard, and you can do anything. Become anything.” But even “working hard,” we still find ourselves without jobs, without many options, and with a whole bunch of debt.

This is the same generation that is still having abstinence only education funded by the federal government. The same generation who largely isn’t taught about consent, birth control, or STIs, or even what sex actually is. The same generation embedded in a violent rape culture. The same generation that isn’t being the given the knowledge about our bodies that we deserve.

This is the same generation. These are Millennials. We don’t have money, we don’t know shit about our sexual and reproductive health, and when we try to make a decision about our bodies, like, say, having an abortion, and are reliant on federal funds for healthcare coverage, we are hit with denial of access and voice after voice saying “You’re irresponsible.”

No matter what the majority of media repeats in a succession of recycled, inaccurate, and uninventive reporting, we’re not the irresponsible ones. Keep legislation like Hyde alive? Denying us the ability to make our own medical decisions based on our economic level in society? That’s being irresponsible.

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