The Corner

Culture

The Hyde Amendment is Life-Saving and Worth Saving

The United States Capitol (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

Ever since Democrats gained a majority in the House in the 2018 midterms, they have set their sights on repealing the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions directly through Medicaid. Last year, House Democratic leadership refused to allow a vote on an amendment that would’ve stripped the Hyde amendment from a Labor-Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill, motivated by other political concerns.

However, this year, Democratic politicians have renewed their attacks on Hyde. Every Democratic presidential candidate, including presumptive nominee Joe Biden, publicly opposed the Hyde amendment. Last week, the Biden campaign released policy recommendations from its joint taskforce with supporters of Vermont senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders; those recommendations also called for the repeal of Hyde.

Just last week, House Democrats went a step further. On Thursday, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) introduced an amendment to remove Hyde’s language from a 2021 appropriations bill. In a statement, Pressley said that the Hyde amendment’s legacy was “shameful” and that she was “frustrated and disappointed” that a pro-choice House majority would advance an appropriations bill including it. Representatives Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) cosponsored Pressley’s amendment. Today, the House Rules Committee will decide whether this amendment will make it to the House floor for consideration.

Historically, the Hyde amendment has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. In 1976, the original amendment received votes from 107 Democrats in the House, 44 percent of House Democrats who voted on the measure. In 1993, when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, some of them made an effort to do away with the Hyde amendment, but it remained in effect, partly because it received support from 98 House Democrats. However, in recent years, the Democratic Party has moved sharply to the left on life issues. After the 2018 election, for instance, ThinkProgress identified 183 House members who favored repealing Hyde.

This latest effort by House Democrats to do away with the Hyde amendment is a strange political decision. It is fairly clear that taxpayer funding of elective abortions is unpopular with the public. All seven national polls conducted since 2016 on taxpayer-funded abortion have found that a plurality of Americans opposes it, and six of them show that a majority of Americans opposes it. Those surveys were conducted by a range of pollsters, and there were variations among them in how the survey questions were worded.

In addition to being popular, the Hyde amendment is good policy. Ideologically diverse groups that have analyzed the effects of the amendment have concluded that it has saved millions of lives. A 2010 analysis by the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights found that Hyde had prevented 1 million abortions. The Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal abortion, published a literature review in 2009 showing a strong scholarly consensus that limiting Medicaid funding of abortion lowers abortion rates. My own research for the Charlotte Lozier Institute has concluded that the Hyde amendment has saved more than 2.4 million lives since it was first adopted in 1976 and continues to save approximately 60,000 lives every year.

Moving forward, Senate Republicans need to make it clear that they will not support any appropriations bill that does not contain Hyde’s protections. Similarly, President Trump should state, as he has done before, that he will veto any appropriations bill that does not include the Hyde Amendment. This will send a strong signal to House Democrats that their recent efforts to mandate that taxpayers fund abortion will not succeed.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this piece are attributable to the author and do not necessarily represent the positions of the author’s affiliated institutions.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular

Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

On Last Night’s Debate

The fact that I believe the debate was unwatchable last night does not mean I believe President Trump did not have some good moments. And the fact that I imagine it was a net-net win for Joe Biden does not mean he did not have some utterly awful moments. Yet the unwatchability of the debate -- the cringe factor ... Read More
Elections

On Last Night’s Debate

The fact that I believe the debate was unwatchable last night does not mean I believe President Trump did not have some good moments. And the fact that I imagine it was a net-net win for Joe Biden does not mean he did not have some utterly awful moments. Yet the unwatchability of the debate -- the cringe factor ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Who Wins an Unwatchable Debate?

Over coffee this morning I read a fascinating interview with Martin Gurri, the former CIA analyst who first noticed the seismic impact of social media on world politics. The author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, Gurri studies the fracturing of discourse and the ... Read More
Elections

Who Wins an Unwatchable Debate?

Over coffee this morning I read a fascinating interview with Martin Gurri, the former CIA analyst who first noticed the seismic impact of social media on world politics. The author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, Gurri studies the fracturing of discourse and the ... Read More

Let Them Fight!

We need to blow up the traditional presidential-debate formats — not because there was too much mayhem in last night’s contest, but because the mayhem wasn’t constructive enough. The Commission on Presidential Debates is now apparently considering allowing moderators to cut candidates’ mics mid-debate. ... Read More

Let Them Fight!

We need to blow up the traditional presidential-debate formats — not because there was too much mayhem in last night’s contest, but because the mayhem wasn’t constructive enough. The Commission on Presidential Debates is now apparently considering allowing moderators to cut candidates’ mics mid-debate. ... Read More

Trump vs. Trump

I don’t wish to discuss the debate because I’m not a masochist. It was a crap crêpe. A turd taco. Fecal flan. The American people could be forgiven for rising as one and declaring to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, “Everyone in this country is now dumber for having listened to you. I award you no points, and ... Read More

Trump vs. Trump

I don’t wish to discuss the debate because I’m not a masochist. It was a crap crêpe. A turd taco. Fecal flan. The American people could be forgiven for rising as one and declaring to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, “Everyone in this country is now dumber for having listened to you. I award you no points, and ... Read More