On Friday, President Biden released a budget that would, if enacted, end the Hyde amendment, an annual budget rider that has prohibited federal Medicaid funding of abortion for more than four decades.
The Hyde amendment has been America’s most effective pro-life public policy. By one estimate, it has saved more than two million human lives from abortion since it was first enacted:
One study by the Guttmacher Institute, a Planned Parenthood offshoot, found that in states that use their own tax dollars to pay for abortions undergone by Medicaid recipients, the abortion rate among Medicaid recipients is 3.9 times the rate among nonrecipients, “while in states that do not permit Medicaid funding for abortions, Medicaid recipients are only 1.6 times as likely as nonrecipients to have abortions.”
The precise number of lives saved by the Hyde amendment is a matter of dispute, but according to a 2016 report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an organization affiliated with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, “the best research indicates that the Hyde Amendment has saved over two million unborn children” since the policy was first enacted in 1976.
That’s an average of 50,000 human lives saved from abortion each year.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged in a 2009 interview that a major rationale for funding abortions for Medicaid recipients was that it would result in a culling of the poor, though she put it a bit more euphemistically. “Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” she said. “So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding of abortion.”
So long as Joe Manchin keeps his commitment to keep the filibuster, it’s unlikely the Hyde amendment will be killed off entirely in 2021, but Democrats could be just a Senate seat or two away from having the votes to get rid of the Hyde amendment if they keep the House.
By putting the Hyde amendment on the chopping block in the 2022 mid-term elections, however, Biden could be hurting his party’s ability to maintain control of Congress: Polls have consistently shown strong majorities of American voters support the Hyde amendment.