While the debate in America over the issue of abortion remains a deeply divisive one, Americans of all political stripes have consistently found strong agreement on at least this one point: American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortions. According to a recent poll, 77% of Americans oppose the use of U.S. tax dollars to fund abortions overseas, and 58% of Americans oppose U.S. taxpayer funding of abortions domestically. Those majorities include 55% of Democrats who oppose international funding of abortion, and 31% of Democrats who oppose domestic funding of abortion.
In response to this strong consensus among the American people, it has been U.S. policy for more than 40 years that U.S. taxpayer dollars must not be used to pay for abortions in the U.S. This policy is known as the Hyde Amendment, and it was first passed in 1976 thanks to the leadership of Congressman Henry Hyde (IL). After a legal challenge, the amendment was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 in Harris v. McRae.
Functionally, the Hyde Amendment is not a part of the permanent U.S. law, but rather has been attached to spending bills in every fiscal cycle since 1980. Over that period of time, other similar and related spending restrictions around the issue of abortion have been approved, but Hyde continues to form the baseline, and near-consensus, foundation of U.S. policy around the question of taxpayer-funded abortion in the U.S.
Until recently, the American people have been joined in their support of this policy by a wide bipartisan majority in Congress. Even then-Senator Joe Biden publicly supported the Hyde Amendment during his nearly 30 years in the U.S. Senate after the amendment was first passed. He, along with virtually every other member of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate who served during these decades, voted in favor of spending bills that included the amendment. For decades, the amendment was not particularly controversial. It was simply common sense.
The impact of the Hyde Amendment goes far beyond the simple, albeit important, goal of protecting the conscience of U.S. taxpayers. It also saves millions of lives. Literally. One study found that the Hyde Amendment has saved more than 2.4 million lives since the time it was first enacted. It is a staggering figure and demonstrates that the policy is clearly worth continuing.
Unfortunately, after intense pressure from the increasingly radical abortion industry, then-candidate Joe Biden abandoned his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment as he was campaigning for the Democrat nomination for President. It was an incredibly tragic capitulation to the abortion industry, and it was transparently motivated by politics.
Some things should be above politics. 2.4 million innocent lives are absolutely among those things. Each and every one of those lives is more important than politics, and Joe Biden’s reversal ignored that clear truth.
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President Biden just put his tragic reversal into action, and sent a proposed budget to Congress that would eliminate the Hyde Amendment. After four decades of supporting the amendment in both the U.S. Senate and as Vice President, this budget proposal abandoned the future lives that stand to be saved by this critical and long-standing (not to mention strongly supported) policy. Maybe most disappointing is that President Biden clearly recognizes the morally problematic nature of his action—his words and his record over the last four decades demonstrate that recognition. But he has now reversed course, and it is incumbent on the American people to stand up for the most innocent among us by standing against the President’s wrong-headed action.
The rubber will meet the road on this issue when Congress debates and finalizes spending bills for the next fiscal year and beyond. There is still clearly a majority in both chambers who favor the Hyde Amendment, but it will be up to us to make sure this portion of any spending bill is considered essential. We at the ACLJ will be communicating this message to Congress loud and clear, and your voice will be critical in that effort. Please add your name to our petition demanding that U.S. taxpayers not be forced to pay for abortions.
President Biden has lost his way on this common sense issue. Fortunately, the American people have not. Congress must listen to the American people rather than the President. Millions of innocent lives depend on it.
LifeNews Note: Nathanael Bennett writes for the American Center for Law and Justice.