COLUMN: The Hyde Amendment: 40 Years of Saving Lives

October 11, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Two million lives. That is the number, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, of lives saved by the Hyde Amendment. Many Americans may not be familiar with the Hyde Amendment, named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), and first enacted by Congress on September 30, 1976. The Hyde Amendment, which must be renewed every year, prevents federal taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions, particularly through Medicaid. Last month was the 40th anniversary of this important piece of legislation, which has been passed by Congress every year since 1976 and signed into law by presidents of both parties. I have supported and will continue to support the Hyde Amendment so that Americans will not be forced to violate their conscience and pay for the destruction of human life.

Not only is this a matter of respecting the values of Americans who are pro-life, but it is also about preventing the loss of innocent lives. According to one estimate, repealing the Hyde Amendment could increase abortion rates by 25 percent. 

Most Americans clearly favor a prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortions, which is why the Hyde Amendment has had bipartisan support for 40 years. A recent Marist poll found that almost two in three Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions; support for the Hyde Amendment supersedes partisan politics.

For our society to make progress to respect every life, I believe the Hyde Amendment should be made permanent law instead of requiring annual approval. One of my first votes in Congress was for House passage of H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015, which would make the prohibition of federal taxpayer funds for abortion permanent.

There are also additional legal measures that are critical to supporting health care entities that decline involvement in abortion. I have supported legislation called the Weldon Amendment that prevents the federal, state, and local governments from enacting policies that require health care entities to provide or pay for abortion-related services. Like the Hyde Amendment, the Weldon Amendment must be renewed every year. I voted for the Conscience Protection Act, which would make these protections permanent.

I believe that all life is precious, and it is the responsibility of our society to protect the most vulnerable. The Hyde and Weldon Amendments, which must be reauthorized annually by Congress, should be made permanent. After 40 years, two million lives testify to the importance of these efforts to protect the sanctity of all life.