On September 30 America celebrates 40 years of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortion. As a result of this law, more than 2 million Americans are alive today. Exactly one week ago, I, along with abortion survivor Gianna Jessen and Genevieve Plaster from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee in favor of upholding the Hyde Amendment and enacting the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act.
The Hyde Amendment was proposed by Rep. Henry Hyde and first enacted in 1976 on one of the spending bills Congress must pass each year. This law prevents taxpayer funding of abortions in various federal health programs run by the Department of Human Services, which oversees the National Institutes of Health, Medicaid and Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among others.
Between 1973 and 1977, the years between Roe v. Wade and the Hyde Amendment becoming law, the federal government spent about $50 million annually to fund approximately 300,000 abortions per year under Medicaid. In defending his amendment, Hyde said we “cannot in logic and conscience help fund the execution of these innocent, defenseless human lives.”
Cutting Money for Abortion Reduces Abortion
The Hyde Amendment has been renewed every year since and signed into law by both Republican and Democrat presidents. In 1980, the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment in the 5-4 Harris v. McRae landmark decision. A recent report by Charlotte Lozier Institute’s Dr. Michael New examines more than 20 peer-reviewed studies about the effects on the abortion rate of preventing taxpayer funding of abortions through Medicaid.
The result? The abortion rate decreases when public funding for it is not available. Since 1976, the lives saved because of the Hyde Amendment roughly equal the entire population of Houston, the fourth-largest city in America. Two million is also roughly equal to the population of the entire state of New Mexico, and to the combined populations of the states of Rhode Island and Delaware. For a state-by-state breakdown of how many lives the Hyde Amendment has saved, please visit here.
When taxpayers don’t sponsor abortion, women on Medicaid are less likely to get one. New’s research reveals that one in every nine people born to a mother on Medicaid is alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment saves more than 60,000 lives in the United States annually. Go to the #HelloHyde campaign at www.hellohyde.org to see the human faces behind the one-in-nine lives saved statistic.
Even the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, estimated in a 2007 report that a Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding for abortion has prevented between 18 to 35 percent of women from having an abortion. In other words, removing the Hyde Amendment would increase abortion by roughly 25 percent.
Americans Don’t Want to Pay for Abortions
The Hyde Amendment enjoys popular support from a strong majority of Americans. A Marist poll published in July found that 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 63 percent of women, 45 percent of those who say they are “pro-choice,” and 44 percent of Democrats.
Despite the positive impact and bipartisan support this law has had, Hillary Clinton has promised to make repealing the Hyde Amendment a key priority if she becomes president. This year’s Democratic Party platform for the first time ever called for its repeal. In contrast, Donald Trump has pledged to make the Hyde Amendment permanent—that is, instead of maintaining it as an annual spending provision, codifying it into law. Forcing American taxpayers regardless of political persuasion or income level to contribute to the killing of innocent unborn babies is indefensible.
To protect unborn children, the Hyde Amendment needs to be made permanent and be applied across the government, including to Obamacare. Congress must enact the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7, S. 582) to codify this important, life-saving law. Roe v. Wade is a terrible and unjust court ruling pitted against the rights of unborn babies that unfortunately made abortion legal. However, Americans should not also have to pay for killing these babies. The Supreme Court ruled as such in 1980.
At the proposal of the Hyde Amendment on June 24, 1976, Hyde ended by saying: “Don’t say ‘poor woman, go destroy your young, and we will pay for it.’ An innocent, defenseless human life, in a caring and humane society, deserves better than to be flushed down a toilet or burned in an incinerator. The promise of America is that life is not just for the privileged, the planned, or the perfect.”
Hyde was a tireless fighter for preborn babies. More than 2 million people who may not have been “privileged,” “planned,” or “perfect” are alive because of Hyde, and I bet they are quite thankful for it.