Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Tell the truth about the pro-life Hyde Amendment, by Melanie Israel

Tell the truth about the pro-life Hyde Amendment, by Melanie Israel

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

Even if you don’t follow politics closely, you’ve likely heard about the Hyde Amendment, which restricts taxpayer dollars from paying for elective abortions in federal programs such as Medicaid. It comes up often because Congress routinely incorporates it into its annual spending bills –- and now it’s back in the news as lawmakers again wrestle over money.

This policy is longstanding — it has been included in funding bills since 1976, regardless of which party controls Congress and the White House. It is lifesaving — 2.4 million lives and counting. And it is broadly supported across the political spectrum. A 2021 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 58% of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, including 65% of independents and 31% of Democrats.

That hasn’t stopped the media from portraying the Hyde Amendment as “controversial,” nor has it stopped politicians from trying to reverse the life-saving policy. Why the distorted characterizations?

Democrats in Congress, as well as President Joe Biden (who supported the Hyde Amendment for more than 30 years until the 2020 presidential primary), have called to remove the Hyde Amendment from annual appropriations measures. That’s exactly what the president’s budget proposed, and what multiple House-passed appropriations bills have done.

Congress has until Dec. 3 to appropriate funding for fiscal year 2022, and whether Hyde will remain is an open question. Meanwhile, a massive $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill proposes to enact new health-related spending, including a Medicaid look-alike program, without applying Hyde protections. Biden has indicated that he would sign a reconciliation bill with or without Hyde protections.

Such a position is a significant departure from the decades of consensus surrounding the Hyde Amendment: While Americans may vehemently disagree on the issue of abortion, a majority agrees that tax dollars shouldn’t pay for them.

Unfortunately, the media hasn’t accurately informed public discourse about this consequential policy debate. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has reiterated on multiple occasions that the Hyde Amendment is a “red line” and the reconciliation bill is “dead on arrival” if it fails to incorporate Hyde.

In reporting this significant development, The Hill chose a headline that cast the Hyde Amendment as “controversial.” A better characterization of Hyde would have been “popular” or “well-liked.”

Responding to Manchin’s comments, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who heads the House Progressive Caucus, said that she would not support the reconciliation bill if it included Hyde and obfuscated the issue in multiple ways on CNN’s “State of the Union” show.

First, she said falsely stated that “the Hyde Amendment is something that the majority of the country does not support.” Then, when asked specifically whether she wanted reconciliation bill spending to go toward abortions, she bizarrely said “none of the dollars here are going for that.” But of course that’s precisely what would be allowed in a Medicaid look-alike program, for example, without explicit Hyde protections.

Jayapal doubled down on the “Pod Save America” podcast, saying that Hyde doesn’t need to be included in a reconciliation bill because it’s already the law. But Jayapal should be well-aware that the Hyde Amendment applies to annual appropriations bills, which are entirely separate from the new spending in the reconciliation bill at hand.

Americans on both sides of the debate surrounding abortion and pro-life protections care deeply about the issue, but thoughtful debate requires truthful discourse.

The Hyde Amendment is longstanding, broadly supported, life-saving policy. Policymakers should respect Americans’ consensus on this issue and not use federal spending measures to bypass Hyde protections, and media outlets should accurately report the enduring support for the Hyde Amendment as these debates unfold.

Melanie Israel is a policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

In the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former head of Theranos, emails and text messages have lately held center stage. Many of the communications in question were exchanged between Holmes and Ramesh Balwani, at the time her second-in-command, while the two were in a longtime romantic relationship. Here’s the troubling part: At least some of the messages might not have been ...

It appears that President Joe Biden’s administration is finally taking “no” for an answer from Iran. Since the summer, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has signaled that his patience is not infinite when it comes to his offer to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal. This week, Blinken went a bit further, saying, “We will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran.” This ...

It was a president named George Washington who said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter,” and right now Merrick Garland is leading us. Cheated out of a seat on the Supreme Court and failing as U.S. attorney general, the poor man is furthering the prospect of Americans having to shut up on public issues and thereby risking ...

The first big data release from the 2020 census in August contained some positive news about America’s biggest cities. The biggest of them, New York, turned out to have hundreds of thousands more people than the annual population estimates made by the Census Bureau had projected. Not one of the country’s 10 largest cities lost population between 2010 and 2020, the first time that’s happened ...

When the stakes are high for policy decisions, as they of course are during a public health crisis, we hear the mantra “follow the science.” As millions of students are back in class for the third school year affected by COVID-19, this tenet applies to schools as well. Parents and teachers alike are concerned about the loss of learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One prominent study found ...

Facebook's critics have long argued that the social media giant is bad for consumers, bad for children and bad for the country — a serial abuser of its users' privacy, an amplifier of misinformation and a much-too-handy tool for turning Americans against one another. It turns out they were right, and Facebook knew it. Last week, the company's record caught up with it in the person of Frances ...

The U.S. Postal Service recently launched a postal banking pilot program that allows customers to cash payroll and business checks up to $500 in four cities: Washington, Baltimore, the Bronx and Falls Church, Virginia. This modest pilot is the foundation for more expansive contemplated postal banking services that could include bill-paying services, ATM access, and money order and wire ...

Last week saw a rare triumph of substance over politics in Washington. In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke in favor of abolishing the debt ceiling. She’s right: The debt ceiling deserves to go. This strange quirk of U.S. budget process serves no purpose except, now and then, to let one party or the other seek political advantage by ...

On Oct. 4, three days after the Postal Service implemented degraded standards for first-class mail, ensuring delivery will be slower than in the 1970s, it announced it was getting into a new business: check cashing. The experimental service is taking place in four cities: Washington, Baltimore, the Bronx, and Falls Church, Virginia. USPS has $188 billion in unpaid debts and long-term ...

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.

LEARN MORE

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News