By Dave Andrusko
As readers of NRL News Today know all too well, Biden-Harris and congressional Democrats are determined to subvert the bipartisan accommodation that goes all the back to 1976: the Hyde Amendment. Only a party wholly in thrall to the extremist Abortion Industry would plant their flag in territory that Republican and Democrat presidents alike have rejected.
You’ll recall that Biden-Harris submitted a 2022 budget without the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing bipartisan agreement not to fund elective abortions, with very narrow exceptions. Last Thursday the House Appropriations Committee, passed a funding bill for the 2022 fiscal year without this language.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) offered an amendment during the markup to restore the Hyde Amendment, according to Sandhya Raman of Roll Call “It’s my hope that members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers can negotiate spending that is responsible and will not lead to financial disaster,” said Rep. Cole, who is the ranking member on the HHS-Education Appropriations. “But the first step toward negotiation is the full reinstatement of the Hyde amendment.”
All Republicans voted in favor joined by just one Democrat, Henry Cuellar of Texas.
Raman spent the bulk of her time arguing that if the Hyde Amendment is not reauthorized the effect would be “muted,” to use the description offered by Laurie Sobel, the Kaiser Family Foundation associate director for women’s health policy. Without going through and rejecting all the rationalizations that grossly minimize the impact, three truths stand out.
First, after Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, various federal health programs, including Medicaid, simply started paying for elective abortions. By the time Rep. Henry Hyde offered his amendment in 1976 to prevent federal Medicaid funds from paying for abortions, the federal government was paying for 300,000 abortions annually—and the number was rising.
The Abortion Industry fully understands why NRLC calls the Hyde Amendment the greatest domestic abortion-reduction measure ever enacted by Congress. As Jennifer Popik, JD, NRL Director of Federal Legislation, wrote, “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.”
Second, as Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family wrote for Newsweek, “adding insult to injury,” the new appropriations bill
also abandons the Weldon Amendment, which ensures government agencies do not discriminate against any health care entity that doesn’t want to pay for abortions. These two amendments represent the government’s commitment to respect, at least to some extent, the deeply held beliefs of millions of pro-life Americans.
Third, the public’s approval of the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition of taxpayer funding of abortion remains very high, including among Independents and almost a third of Democrats:
- In 2020, a Marist poll found that those opposed to federal funding of abortions held firm with 60% of Americans opposed.
- In a 2021 Marist poll conducted in January, those who “oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion”—58% —is solid and consistent with prior polling. What is noticeable is that 65% of Independents and even 31% of Democrats oppose federal funding of abortion.
Fourth, and finally, the latest wedge attempt is to insist the Hyde Amendment is guilty of the all-purpose charge of “racism,” or, put less inflammatorily, that it “discriminates against the poor.” This is patently not true, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains:
Not at all. The amendment covers all health programs funded through appropriations bills for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education –not only programs covering the poor. And Congress has enacted the same policy in programs for the military, federal employees, and others who are not poor
The battle will obviously be fought in both the House and the Senate. NRLC will keep you updated.
NRLC is making every effort to preserve this life-affirming amendment. In addition to signing the Petition, be sure to inform your members of Congress that you want them to support the Hyde Amendment.
Also, NRLC has a bevy of materials on Hyde that will be invaluable. They are found here.
In the meanwhile, be sure to sign the Petition telling Congress “We want to keep the Hyde Amendment to Prevent Taxpayer Funding of Abortion.”
Please also remind your family and friends that they can NRL News Today by signing up here. You can sign up for this free Monday through Saturday pro-life news source in 30 seconds.