June 21, 2019

Editorial

Abortion as a political issue

​An indication of how much the Democratic Party has become the pro-abortion party happened on June 7 when presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course and declared that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment. He apparently decided that he had to do that in order to win the Democratic nomination for president.

Both political parties supported the Hyde Amendment when the law was passed overwhelmingly in 1976, three years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy (while still allowing states to regulate abortions in the second and third trimesters). Named after Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, who died in 2007, it barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except to save the life of the mother.

Congress has approved the law over and over. In 1993, it kept the basic law but added cases of rape and incest, as well as the life of the mother.

As of 2016, polls showed that 57 percent of voters supported the Hyde Amendment, with 36 percent opposed. But that same year, the Democratic platform had, for the first time, an explicit call to repeal the law.

Before the Hyde Amendment became law, it is estimated that 300,000 abortions were performed annually using taxpayer funds. Perhaps some of those abortions would have taken place without taxpayer funds, but during the 43 years it has been law, the amendment has surely saved the lives of millions of babies.

Biden’s reversal of his position is only one example of how important the issue of abortion has become—not only in next year’s elections but in what various state legislatures have been doing either to outlaw abortion or to keep it legal should the Supreme Court reverse its Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.

We have previously editorialized against the New York law that removed restrictions on abortions, even up to the moment of birth. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated the signing of that law by ordering the One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit in pink.

The Illinois legislature, too, recently passed a bill that removes virtually all restrictions on abortions in that state.

Conversely, as reporter and columnist Sean Gallagher wrote about in our June 7 issue, the Indiana legislature is one of many that are trying to protect the dignity of unborn children. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld part of the Indiana law that requires the burial or cremation of the remains of aborted children, but chose not to rule regarding the ban on discriminatory abortion until other lower court rulings make their way to the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has said that abortions will probably cost more if remains must be buried or cremated. We wonder if most people even realized that, up to now, the aborted babies were discarded along with medical waste.

Besides Indiana, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri have passed laws recently to ban abortions after the earliest stages of pregnancy, hoping that those laws will reach the Supreme Court.

Although many of us learned back in high school biology that a new person is formed when a man’s sperm attaches itself to a woman’s egg (if that is still taught in our public schools), we have to acknowledge that, according to polls, about 60 percent of Americans want to keep abortion legal during the first three months of pregnancy. However, contrary to the new law in New York, less than one-third support abortion after six months of pregnancy.

There is no way to know if the Supreme Court will overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, but it seems likely that one or all of the laws recently passed will eventually get there. As Justice Clarence Thomas said, “The Court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s.”

That doesn’t mean that there will necessarily be a full-blown case before the Court. It could decide the constitutionality of laws simply by declining to hear a case, appeals court decisions stand. That could well be Chief Justice John Roberts’ preference.

Whatever happens, it seems clear that the pro-abortion side has been at least somewhat successful in making this an issue about women’s health and the right to control their own bodies. But that right should end when it requires the killing of another person, as abortion does.

—John F. Fink

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