Pro-Life Congressman Henry Hyde Dies, Applauded as Key Abortion Opponent
by Steven Ertelt
November 28, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Just weeks after he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts opposing abortion, pro-life champion Henry Hyde passed away. Congressman Hyde is best known in the pro-life community as a tremendous orator in defense of human life and for sponsoring the Hyde Amendment prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortions.
Hyde passed away on Thursday, at the age of 83 at Rush University Medical Center in his hometown of Chicago.
"The people we pretend to defend, the powerless, those who cannot escape, who cannot rise up in the streets, these are the ones that ought to be protected by the law," Hyde once said during a debate on abortion.
"The law exists to protect the weak from the strong," he added.
About his longtime friend and colleague, Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey lawmaker who heads the House Pro-Life Caucus, said, “In the greatest human rights issue of our time—the right to life, Henry Hyde will always be known as a champion and great defender of children and their moms."
"With malice towards none, Henry Hyde often took to the House floor to politely ask us to show compassion and respect—even love—for the innocent," he told LifeNews.com.
On November 5, President Bush awarded Hyde with the presidential medal — the highest award a president can grant to a civilian.
Bush explained that Hyde "used his persuasive powers for noble causes."
"He was a gallant champion of the weak and forgotten, and a fearless defender of life in all its seasons," the president said.
“It’s gratification,’’ Bob Hyde said of how his father views the award. "I think it affirms the importance and the value of his stance on many things, like right to life… It means a lot to him."
Hyde was first elected to the House in 1974 and served as chairman of the House International Relations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 2001. In those positions, Hyde advanced pro-life legislation and worked to stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize abortions in other countries.
Hyde’s lasting legacy will be the federal Hyde amendment, which has prevented federal tax dollars from being used to fund almost all abortions since the 1976. The Supreme Court heard a case in 1980 challenging the law and upheld it as constitutional.
The amendment is credited with stopping the funding of millions of abortions and saving countless lives over the years. Hyde’s name is still attached to it as Congress debates the provision annually.
In comments about his retirement from public office, Hyde, who turned 83 in April, said, "I just want to be remembered as a good man who did some good."
"Father Time and Mother Nature both stalk every one of us, and they finally caught up with me,” Hyde added.