By Dave Andrusko
It is now part of the pro-abortion catechism that the Hyde Amendment must go. At first blush, that might seem wildly stupid on a number of grounds, besides the obvious fact that the public does not and never has wanted to pay for abortions.
For example,once upon a time, it functioned as a shield for Democrats against the charge that they were 100% pro-abortion. They trotted out their support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans almost all federal funding of abortion, as proof positive.
No more, which, alas, is no surprise. Once the party that hid behind the (wholly insincere) formulation of abortion “safe, legal and rare,” now Democrats unabashedly support the killing of unborn children through the end of pregnancy—and beyond—paid for by the public. To disagree with party dogma is now unthinkable.
I’d like to take a few minutes to briefly recall how the Hyde Amendment came to be and what difference it has made. Since the Major Media would never tell you, it’s up to us to remind people that prior to Hyde Amendment, Medicaid paid for about 300,000 abortions a year. The figure now is a few hundred.
The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976—three years after Roe v. Wade—after a titanic congressional battle. Pro-life forces were led by a freshman congressman from Illinois’s Sixth Congressional District, a man whose name would become synonymous with pro-life determination and eloquence.
That the Hyde Amendment would hold up once it came to attention of a Supreme Court riddled with pro-abortionists was by no means a sure thing. Indeed, just the opposite was the case.
U.S. District Court Judge John Dooling quickly struck the Hyde Amendment in a mammoth 642-page decision. While the Dooling decision was working its way up the judicial ladder, over half the members of the United States House of Representatives filed a “friend of the court” brief challenging Dooling’s conclusions.
D-Day came on June 30, 1980. On a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment. Writing for the majority in Harris v. McRae, Justice Potter Stewart concluded that “abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a human life.”
A tremendous shot in the arm for the Movement, the Hyde Amendment represented the first significant pro-life victory in the seven years since Roe was handed down. Pro-life morale needed a boost.
It is important to understand that the Court insisted its Roe decision did not equal “abortion on demand.” Yet until Harris v. McRae, every subsequent attempt to hedge in the unrestricted abortion “liberty” was swatted away like a gnat by an imperious High Court.
The Hyde Amendment is conservatively estimated to have save 2 million lives!