Meet Deanna: The Hyde Amendment Saved Her Life from Abortion

Opinion   |   Katie Yoder   |   Aug 2, 2021   |   2:56PM   |   Washington, DC

The Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer funding from going toward abortion, is under threat by lawmakers. But pro-life organizations are stressing the importance of the amendment – and estimate that nearly 2.5 million people are alive today because of it. Here’s the story of one of those people.

Deanna Fortin, an attorney from Louisiana, says that she and her siblings are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. She first wrote about her story in 2017 for the Independent Journal Review, in a piece called, “The Hyde Amendment Saved My Life.” Since then, her story has also been shared in congressional testimonies. As politicians and the Democratic Party platform challenge the Hyde Amendment, Deanna revealed more about her story in an interview for this piece.

Her story had a rough beginning.

“I was the fourth child of a poor, single mother,” she said. “My oldest sibling was 5 years old when I was born.”

Her birth mother, she continued, “unfortunately struggled with poverty and mental health issues.” But “despite all of that she tried her best to care for my siblings and I.”

Today, Deanna says, her older sister “has some contact with our birth mother.”

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Deanna challenged abortion supporters who point to situations like hers to justify using taxpayer dollars for abortion.

“I’ve actually seen abortion activists use hypotheticals that exactly match my story to advocate for getting rid of Hyde, explicitly arguing that someone like me would be better off dead than being born into the situation I was,” she stressed. “It is extremely painful to listen to this type of message, as if my life was worthless because I was born into poverty. It seems to be a very out of touch, classist argument.”

First introduced in 1976 by Representative Henry Hyde from Illinois, the Hyde Amendment bans federal funding or taxpayer dollars from going toward abortion, with the exceptions of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The legislative provision – once approved annually and supported by both sides in Congress – largely impacts Medicaid recipients.

Deanna’s comments echoed her piece from 2017, where she confirmed that “many activists fighting to get rid of Hyde would argue that her situation is exactly why Medicaid should pay for poor women’s abortions.”

But, she added, “instead of offering to kill her unborn child, free of charge, our government sent my birth mother a message of hope by paying for my prenatal care, birth, and care as an infant.”

In her interview with Townhall, she explained, “My birth mother, as someone below the federal poverty line, was eligible for Medicaid coverage for her pregnancy.”

Deanna said that she “also received Medicare coverage as a foster child.”

“My siblings and I were placed in foster care about 6 months after I was born,” she added. She spent the first five years of her life in the Louisiana foster care system. That changed when she and her siblings were welcomed into a loving home through adoption.

Her adoption, she said, is part of the reason why she identifies as pro-life.

“I think it would be impossible not to be pro-life when you’ve lived the beauty of adoption the way I have,” she said. “But on top of that, the biological and scientific truths regarding the humanity of the unborn is compelling.”

Today, she’s an active participant in the pro-life movement.

“I’ve been involved in the prolife movement for as long as I can recall, both as an attorney and a private individual,” she said. “I’ve testified before multiple state legislatures, advocated for the unborn in court, and work with a number of pro-life groups that support pregnant women in need.”

She responded to politicians (such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) who claim that the Hyde Amendment harms women, especially lower-income women.

“Being conceived in poverty should not be a government funded death sentence,” she urged. “As a country it is important that we not send a message that the lives of low income women and their children are not worth saving.”

“I am thankful the Hyde Amendment protected me from the possibility of anyone encouraging my birth mother to end my life on the government’s tab,” she added.

On Thursday, as National Review’s John McCormack reported, House Democrats passed a bill to provide taxpayer funding of elective abortions through Medicaid. This comes even as poll after poll finds that most Americans oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion.

Deanna shared a special message for pregnant women considering abortion because they feel like they have no other choice.

“I know it’s said often that the pro-life movement doesn’t care about women, but nothing is further from the truth,” she said. “We love you. No matter your circumstances, no matter your background.”

“We want to help you make the best decision for you and your child – whether that’s supporting you with physical resources, medical care, and parenting classes, or helping you find a loving family that will love your child as their own,” she concluded. In other words, “We are here for you.”

LifeNews Note: Katie Yoder writes for Town Hall and National Review, where this column originally appeared.