Congress Comes out of Hiding
Doing Henry Hyde's unfinished business.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

Now that the Obama administration has actually done something to prohibit some taxpayer-funded abortion in one part of the health-care law, albeit at administrative discretion that can go away just as easily as it was added, the Planned Parenthood crew is watching this law “like a hawk”: “We now know we need to be vigilant to make sure there aren’t other areas of the law where there is silence. There is a whole host of areas that we’re going to be watching like a hawk,” Laurie Rubiner, Planned Parenthood vice president for public policy, told Politico in the wake of the HHS announcement.

Which is why Republican congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey and brave Democrat Dan Lipinski of Illinois introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” right before they left D.C. for the summer recess. It would do exactly what the House Republican leadership promises to do if they are in the majority next time around: codify the Hyde Amendment across the board.

As John Boehner, who could be the next speaker of the House, puts it: “A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the American people, and codification of the Hyde amendment is the only way we’re going to get the federal bureaucracy to heed the people’s will. The events of the past 18 months show that in the absence of a law explicitly banning federal funding of abortion, pro-abortion bureaucrats and politicians in Washington will resort to any means necessary to circumvent the will of the people — including deception, as evidenced by President Obama’s Executive Order on abortion and the disingenuous manner in which it was portrayed by the White House.”

“The other side is determined to use their huge new bureaucracies to advance a radical social agenda,” rising-star Republican congressman Jim Jordan (Ohio) tells me. “Republicans must confront this attack head-on. . . . When we go out to talk about jobs, the economy, the size and scope of government, and the threats we face in this world, we cannot ignore or shy away from the values debate. I believe that if we do not have the courage to fight for life, family, and religious liberty, then we will soon lose the will to confront the other challenges that we face.”

Consciously or not, Jordan and Boehner — and Smith and Lipinski, who bucked his party, especially — echo that late Illinois congressman whose name popped up frequently during the health-care debate. As Hyde once said in a speech to newly elected members: “If you do not know the principle, or the policy, for which you are willing to lose your office, then you are going to do damage here.” And, as it happens, this is a winning issue — one that unites the majority of Americans, and what promises to be a dramatically different new majority in the House.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. She can be reached at [email protected].