Hyde versus Roe: which has a longer pedigree?

By Dave Andrusko

In the convoluted (and distorted) debate over the Texas Heartbeat law, allow me to offer a Facebook post from an old friend. For 36 years Richard Doerflinger worked tirelessly for Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His breadth of expertise was, and is, breath-taking.

In his post, Doerflinger quoted President Biden who (in referring to the Texas Heartbeat law) said, “This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.” 

Richard made a half-dozen salient points. Below are just two

#1. “Here I will scarcely mention that the operative jurisprudence on the issue is not Roe but Planned Parenthood v. Casey [1992], which dismantled Roe’s trimester system and demoted abortion from a constitutional ‘right’ to a ‘liberty interest’ that government cannot place an “undue burden” on (whatever that means). Roe as precedent is dead and replaced by a 1992 decision, further clarified (modified?) by the partial-birth abortion decision [Gonzales v. Carhart] of 2007.”

This truism is simply omitted, as if the 44 years of abortion jurisprudence between Roe (1973) and Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) doesn’t exist, or, if it does, these court cases don’t matter.

#2. The Hyde Amendment—which has saved well over 2 million lives and which celebrated its 45th anniversary last week–is a particular target of the Abortion Industry and President Biden. Bearing in mind that Roe was modified by Casey (1992), Doerflinger correctly concludes, “So Hyde, first enacted in 1976, has a MUCH longer tradition behind it than Roe.”