I spent part of the past weekend reviewing articles written by reporters who attended the National Right to Life convention last week. I did so not only because it is my job as the organization’s communications director, but also because I am genuinely curious to know how the press sees the men and women who are the lifeblood of the pro-life movement. For the most part, the articles I read were friendly, even good, covering the speakers we hosted as well as workshop topics; nearly all of them noted that ours was one of the first conventions to be held since the world began emerging from the pandemic.
A reporter with Townhall.com interviewed two of our speakers: Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), who spoke at a General Session, and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who addressed guests at our closing banquet. A primary topic of discussion during the two-day event was the Hyde Amendment—its historical significance, and why it is vital that it be protected.
When Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) put forward his now famous amendment in 1976, federal Medicaid statutes made no reference to abortion. Yet the federal program was paying for over 300,000 abortions a year and the number was climbing.
Congressman Hyde’s amendment was added as a rider to the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill to prevent the funneling of funds to pay for abortions. With bipartisan support, it has been in effect ever since. But to remain so the amendment has to be added annually to the HHS budget.
It is estimated the Hyde Amendment has saved 2.4 million lives; National Right to Life considers it the greatest abortion-reduction measure ever enacted by Congress. In fact, some pro-abortion groups claim the abortion-reduction effect is even greater—one-in-three, they say, or perhaps as many as half of all Medicaid-eligible women carry their babies to term as a result of the 45-year-old amendment.
The Hyde Amendment is not a government-wide abortion limitation, but its principle has led to limitation amendments in other areas of the budget. These include the Helms Amendment, which applies to international aid, the Dornan Amendment, which applies to the budget of the District of Columbia, and the Smith Amendment, which applies to federal employee health benefits—to name just a few.
Until recently, the Hyde Amendment was supported by Republican and Democrat-controlled congresses as well as by presidents in both parties. However, in 2019, then-candidate Biden did a one-eighty and announced that he now favored taxpayer-funded abortion. By omitting the Hyde Amendment from his proposed budget, President Biden has endorsed the extremism of pro-abortion groups and their allies.
Sadly, as more and more Democrats determined to bow to the demands of the abortion lobby have been elected to both the House and Senate, the Hyde Amendment has been placed on the chopping block. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have each called for its elimination.
What used to be a consensus—that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions—is morphing into a money grab, with pro-abortion members of the House and Senate supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood (PPFA) in their quest to rake in even more money than they currently do.
All this, even though polling through the years—and as recently as January 2021—demonstrates that a solid majority of voters oppose having their tax money used to pay for abortions. In a January 2021 Marist poll, 58 percent said they “oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion,” and a November 2020 McLaughlin poll put the number of those opposed at 65 percent.
Pro-abortion groups and their allies in Congress have yet to see an abortion-expansion bill they don’t like. What we are witnessing now is a scorched-earth campaign against the unborn. Eliminating the Hyde Amendment is only one of many extreme measures they are promoting. Whole-heartedly embracing the hardline demands of the abortion industry, Democrats are poised to eliminate all limitations on abortion.
The planned destruction of Hyde is only the beginning.