Without the Hyde Amendment, Our Tax Dollars Will Directly Fund Abortions | Opinion

For the first time in 40 years, the House Labor and Health and Human Services Subcommittee approved a spending bill that doesn't include the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment has ensured that our tax dollars do not directly fund abortions since 1980. Now, this key protection for pro-life Americans is in danger—and will likely not be renewed for the upcoming fiscal term.

Named after its original sponsor, Congressman Henry Hyde, the amendment has been included in every annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill for the last four decades. Prior to its inception, those appropriations bills paid for around 300,000 abortions annually through Medicaid.

Adding insult to injury, the House subcommittee's 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.

Lest anyone claim Hyde is one-sided and overly partisan, consider that until very recently, even President Joe Biden supported the measure.

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Biden wrote a letter to a constituent who implored, "Please don't force me to pay for abortions against my conscience."

Then-senator Biden responded, "I agree with you.... 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."

Biden then assured the concerned citizen, "The government should not tell those with strong convictions against abortion, such as you and I, that we must pay for them."

Biden stimulus GOP billionaire  tax cuts
Joe Biden at the White House July 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. The president talked tough about the stimulus bill, but the GOP has taken advantage of lack of enforcement to fund tax cuts for billionaires. Alex Wong/Getty Images

What changed, President Biden?

More recently, Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton's pick for vice president, made clear that he supported Hyde during the 2016 presidential campaign. "I have been for the Hyde Amendment. And I have not changed my position on that," Kaine said in an interview on CNN.

Many politicians from both sides of the aisle have supported the Hyde Amendment, because vast swaths of the American citizenry did—and still do.

A January 2021 poll conducted by Marist found that even though a majority of Americans called themselves pro-choice, a clear 58 percent opposed the government using tax dollars to pay for abortion. This included 34 percent of those who identified as pro-choice and 65 percent of independent voters.

And yet, according to the U.S. Catholic bishops, the current appropriations bill is "the most extreme pro-abortion appropriations bill that we have seen." It would ensure that "the financial fruits of Americans' labor would advance the destruction of the smallest, most vulnerable humans."

Mother Teresa, in a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, decried abortion as "the greatest destroyer of love and peace" and "a war against the child."

She was exactly right.

Abandoning the Hyde Amendment would represent a surrender of principle to radical forces who celebrate the destruction of life. And that is exactly what preborn life in the womb is: life. Americans' hard-earned money should not flow into the pockets of abortionists to extinguish it.

For the past half century, pro-life Americans have been engaged in a campaign to protect every life under law. No citizen should be forced to fund the destruction of human lives.

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.