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Pro-life group urges action after appropriations bill passes without Hyde Amendment
Pro-life advocates at the 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 19, 2018. / Jonah McKeown/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 16, 2021 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

A pro-life group on Friday decried President Joe Biden’s decision not to renew the Hyde Amendment, which has since 1976 prohibited federal funding for elective abortions, and urged citizens to speak out on the issue. 

The current appropriations bill, which funds the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, provides for $253.8 billion for the 2022 fiscal year, an increase of 28% from the current year.

An amendment to include the Hyde Amendment in the appropriations bill failed at a July 15 markup hearing in a 27-32 vote. The bill, without the Hyde Amendment, ultimately passed the committee by a vote of 33-25.

Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that advocates for pro-life policies, noted that the Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but must be— and has been— approved with bipartisan support every year since 1976. 

The amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions. The policy was first enacted in 1976, three years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In 1993, exceptions were added to the amendment for cases involving rape, incest, or a maternal mortality risk.

SBA List cited a 2020 study that estimated how many lives had been saved by Hyde Amendments, placing the figure around 2.5 million. 

“For more than 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has ensured that Americans are not forced to pay for abortion-on-demand with their tax dollars,” the organization wrote. 

In May, Biden’s $6 trillion budget request for fiscal year 2022 also excluded the Hyde Amendment. 

“President Biden, who supported these measures for decades in Congress, now wants to repeal Hyde and similar amendments. Your voice is urgently needed,” SBA List stated.

The political group CatholicVote urged Catholics to make use of an online tool called the CatholicVote Action Center “to quickly and easily contact their representative to “urge them to insist on pro-life protections, including the Hyde Amendment.”

Catholic Vote also urged people of good will to use the hashtag #HydeSavesLives on social media. 

In a joint statement on Tuesday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s religious liberty committee, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s pro-life committee, called the bill “the most extreme pro-abortion appropriations bill that we have seen, effectively mandating healthcare professionals to participate in abortion, and forcing American citizens to pay for abortion with their tax dollars.”

Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, called the elimination of Hyde “an extreme measure” that “is not what most Americans want and is out of step with our democracy. We urge Congress to preserve provisions like the bipartisan Hyde Amendment that ban the use of taxpayer funding for abortions and affirm the desire of the American public.”

He added that the Knights of Columbus “remain committed to helping pregnant mothers choose life, such as through donating ultrasound machines, other valuable material resources, and volunteer hours to pregnancy resource centers around the world.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the vice ranking Republican on the committee who introduced the amendment, argued that House Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bill without Republican support, and that the bill would not survive in the Senate without the provision. 

The bill also requires family planning clinics receiving Title X federal funding to provide nondirective abortion counseling, and make referrals for abortions upon request. It also would reverse conscience protections for healthcare workers by excluding the Weldon Amendment.

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