By Jennifer Popik, J.D., Director of Federal Legislation
For the first time in over 40 years, the bipartisan Hyde amendment was absent from the annual government spending bill. Pro-abortion President Biden and the Democrat congressional leadership have committed publicly to ending the Hyde Amendment and reestablishing taxpayer funding of abortion.
An action alert can be found here. Every Republican and every Democrat member of the House and Senate should be reminded of the urgency of protecting the Hyde Amendment.
According to Nathanian Weixel’s July 12th article, “HHS spending bill advances without Hyde Amendment”
A key House subcommittee on Monday cleared a spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) without including a decades-old rider prohibiting funding for abortions, kicking off what is likely to be a long and bruising fight. For the first time in 40 years, the Hyde Amendment was excluded from the spending bill introduced and then cleared by the House Appropriations labor and health and human services subcommittee. The HHS bill also does not include the Weldon Amendment, which has been in place since 2005 and prohibits denying federal funding to entities that do not want to cover or provide abortion services. The legislation now goes to the full Appropriations Committee for a markup and eventual vote.
On Thursday July 15th, the full Appropriations committee will work on the bill. While pro-life members of Congress are expected to object, they are outnumbered on the Democrat-controlled committee.
The House needs only a simple majority to advance the appropriations package. However, the 60-vote threshold for passing spending bills in the Senate means that the fight to save Hyde and prevent taxpayer-funded abortion will depend a great deal on pro-life senators holding firm against voting for any final appropriations package that doesn’t contain the pro-life language.
September 30th is the deadline for funding the government, at which point a stopgap measure would be necessary to keep the government open.
Hyde Amendment background
After Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, various federal health programs, including Medicaid, simply started paying for elective abortions. By 1976, the federal Medicaid program was paying for about 300,000 elective abortions annually, and the number was escalating rapidly.
That is why it was necessary for Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) to offer, beginning in 1976, his limitation amendment to the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of funds that flow through that annual appropriations bill from being used for abortions. In a 1980 ruling (Harris v. McRae), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the Hyde Amendment did not contradict Roe v. Wade.
In the years after, the Hyde Amendment was attached to Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations. The remaining appropriations bills, as well as other government appropriation measures, were brought into line with this life-saving policy.
National Right to Life believes that the Hyde Amendment has proven itself to be the greatest domestic abortion-reduction measure ever enacted by Congress, saving an estimated 2.4 million American lives.
Additionally, a majority of Americans have consistently opposed taxpayer funding of abortion.
There is abundant empirical evidence that where government funding for abortion is not available under Medicaid or the state equivalent program, at least one-fourth of the Medicaid-eligible women carry their babies to term, who would otherwise procure federally-funded abortions. Some pro-abortion advocacy groups have claimed that the abortion-reduction effect is substantially greater–one-in-three, or even 50 percent.
More information can be found here: www.nrlc.org/hyde.