Years of bipartisan consensus on the Hyde Amendment “have been thrown out the door”

Editor’s note. Last week  Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY)  spoke in favor of  H.R. 18, “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The Smith bill would make permanent, and government-wide,  the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions.

Ms. TENNEY. Mr. Speaker, in 1994, a senior U.S. Senator was asked by a constituent how he felt about taxpayer-funded abortion. The Senator responded, ‘‘I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.’’ That Senator is now the President of the United States. Yes, those were the words of President Joe Biden on April 7, 1994. Only 2 years ago, in 2019, then-candidate Biden reaffirmed his support of the Hyde amendment. A campaign statement reiterated that ‘‘his position on the Hyde amendment has been consistent.’’

 Since 1976, Congress’ position on the Hyde amendment has also been consistent. The bipartisan Hyde amendment has prevented taxpayer funding for abortion. But, for the first time in decades, House Democrats have stripped this provision from the Federal spending bills we are considering this week. Years of bipartisan consensus have been thrown out the door. 

The Hyde amendment is a commonsense provision that most Americans support. In a recent poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans expressed their support for the Hyde amendment, while only 38 percent voiced support for taxpayer-funded abortions. But this issue is not about the polling or the politics; it is about life. It is estimated that the Hyde amendment has saved more than 2.4 million lives. For over 40 years, these very precious lives have been respected, valued, and saved because of this bipartisan provision. The survival of millions more precious lives is at stake. 

That is why I implore my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to reconsider their decision to strip the Hyde amendment from the spending bills we are considering this week. As a society, we must value the unborn and protect the sanctity of life. Congressman Henry Hyde fought to ban taxpayer-funded abortions, he said, because he believed firmly in the sanctity of life. As he said, the ‘‘little, almost-born infant struggling to live is a member of the human family,’’ and ‘‘abortion is a lethal assault against the very idea of human rights and destroys, along with a defenseless little baby, the moral foundation of our democracy.’’ 

The late Congressman Hyde was right. This is a moral question. That is why I agree with President Biden’s statement when he was in the Senate many years ago: Those who disagree with abortion should not now be forced to pay for it. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together, just as we have for nearly five decades, to support the Hyde amendment and stand up and defend life.