Editor’s note: 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the “Hyde Amendment,” named for pro-life champion the late Rep. Henry Hyde, conservatively credited with saving the lives over a million people. First enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment is a provision attached to the annual appropriations bill that covers many federal health programs (including Medicaid), which prohibits the use of federal funds in those programs for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Prior to its passage the federal Medicaid program paid for 300,000 abortions a year.
The following excerpts provide just a glimmer of Rep. Hyde’s spell-binding eloquence. The context is another pro-life measure. They were delivered by Rep. Hyde to the House of Representatives in 1998 just prior to House consideration of pro-abortion President Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The House voted 296-132 to override the veto — but this was ten votes over the required two-thirds margin. Although there were not enough votes in the Senate to override President Clinton’s veto, the measure would later be passed by the House and Senate, signed into law by Clinton’s pro-life successor, President George W. Bush, and upheld as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
Loneliness. We all know something about loneliness. It is one of life’s most mournful experiences. We have all been lonely, and it teaches us how much we humans need each other.
What a special loneliness it must be for that little almost-born baby to be surrounded by people who want to kill him. I stand in awe of anyone who could perform, much less participate in, such a grisly inhuman act. It must take a heart of stone and a soul of ice.
A vote against this motion to override is to legitimize thousands, of acts of appalling cruelty, not to an animal, a creature of the sea or of the forest, but a fellow human being who has the misfortune to be temporarily unwanted. You have this chance today to put an end to the process of unspeakable destructive cruelty, unworthy of a civilized society.
Our beloved America is becoming “The Killing Fields.” One state has accepted euthanasia, so the elderly can be killed legally, and the abortion culture has resulted in 35 million abortions [now over 58 million] since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Kill them in the womb, and now, with partial-birth abortion, kill them out of the womb, but keep killing them.
Those whose real agenda is to keep all types of abortion legal, at any stage, for any reason, have built their case on one lie after another. There is no polite way to say this. Deceptive? Misinformation? If one wants to be intellectually honest, you have to call a lie what it is.
First they claim this procedure did not exist. When a paper written by the doctor who invented it surfaced, they changed their story, asserting it was only used when a woman’s life was in danger. But then the same doctor admitted that 80 percent of his partial-birth abortions were elective.
Then they lied about anesthesia. Planned Parenthood told us the baby does not feel any pain. The anesthesia given to the mother transfers itself in the womb to the baby, and the baby does not feel any pain.
The anesthesiologists went off the wall, because that frightened women into thinking their babies are at risk if they get anesthesia, and the anesthesiologists came in and testified that was a falsehood, and they shot this down in a hurry.
The executive director of the National Abortion Federation admitted on “Nightline,” and these are his words, that he had “lied through his teeth” about this procedure, thousands of them are performed on healthy little babies, and he was distressed at the loss of credibility the abortion cause was suffering because of the lies.
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop reacted to the President’s veto with this statement: “I believe that Mr. Clinton was misled by his medical advisors on what is fact and what is fiction. Such a procedure cannot truthfully be called `medically necessary’ for either mother or the baby.”
Gee, the administration listens to Dr. Koop on tobacco. I wish they would listen to him on partial-birth abortion.
For over two centuries of our national history, we have struggled to create a society of inclusion. We keep widening the circle for those for whom we are responsible, the aged, the infirm, the poor. Slaves were freed; women were enfranchised; civil rights and voting rights acts were passed; our public spaces were made accessible to the handicapped; Social Security for the elderly, all in the name of widening the circle of inclusion and protection.
This great trajectory in our national history has been shattered by Roe v. Wade and its progeny. By denying an entire class of human beings the welcome and the protection of our laws, we have betrayed what is best in our tradition. We have also put at risk every life which some day someone might find inconvenient.
Madam Speaker, we cannot repair the damage to our culture done by Roe v. Wade. We cannot undo the injustice done to 35 million tiny babies who have been exterminated because seven Justices, strip mining the Constitution, found a right to abortion that no one had ever seen for 200 years.
We cannot unring the bell, we cannot undo that injustice, but we can stop the barbaric butchery of partial-birth abortion. We betray our own humanity if we do not.
Matthew 25 is often read at Catholic funeral masses. It is a lovely passage. “I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was a stranger and you took me in.”
That is what I ask for here today. Welcome the little stranger. Vote to override.