July 2, 2021

Editorial

Tell Congress and president Hyde Amendment saves lives

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., recently shared words that all of us—including members of Congress and President Joe Biden—need to remember.

And they are words, as our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, that we need to make sure continue to define who we are as a society.

“No member of our great nation is weaker, more vulnerable or less protected than the child in the womb,” he said.

Archbishop Naumann, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, shared that sentiment in late May after learning Biden unveiled his proposed budget of $6 trillion for fiscal year 2022 and it does not include the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in spending bills since 1976 to prohibit federal tax dollars from directly funding abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

“There are aspects to President Biden’s budget proposal that will assist vulnerable people. However, Congress must reject the administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children,” said Archbishop Naumann.

Named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican, the amendment was excluded in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law on March 11 by Biden, a Catholic. It also was not part of the proposed federal budget the president released on May 28.

Some members of Congress tried to take steps to right that wrong last week, but the U.S. House of Representatives on June 23 rejected an opportunity to vote on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R.18) by a vote of 209 to 218. H.R.18 would apply the Hyde Amendment government-wide and permanently prohibit taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. A day before Republican leaders in the House issued their call for Democrats to make Hyde permanent, a coalition of 22 state attorneys general, led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, asked Congress to keep the Hyde Amendment in the federal budget “after it was conspicuously removed by the Biden administration.”

Kat Talalas, a spokeswoman for the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said after the June 23 vote, “It is gravely wrong to force all Americans to pay for the killing of innocent babies with their tax dollars. The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2.4 million lives by preventing taxpayer-funded abortion. Now, this 45-year-old bipartisan policy is under unprecedented threat with both the Administration and key members of Congress committed to eliminating it.

“Most Americans oppose using their tax dollars to pay for elective abortions,” Talalas continued, “and the failure of

the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 18 is unjustifiable. Congress must act to protect millions of babies and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion and protect American taxpayers from paying for the destruction of innocent human life.”

The Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities is asking Catholics and all people of faith to sign an online petition, informing the president and Congress that taxpayer dollars should not pay for abortions. You can add your name by visiting www.notaxpayerabortion.com. This petition, “Save Hyde. Save Lives,” will be sent to members of Congress and staff.

In an insert for parish bulletins, the USCCB makes several important points as to why the Hyde Amendment needs to stay part of the spending bill.

They include:

  • The majority of Americans agree with keeping the Hyde Amendment in place—both Democrats and Republicans.
  • The Hyde Amendment has been signed into law since 1976, whether the Congress and the White House were led by Democrats or Republicans.
  • An overwhelming majority of Americans, including low-income women and women of color who are most impacted by it, support the Hyde Amendment and laws that prevent government-funded abortion.

“We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to ensure that the Hyde Amendment and all similar life-saving appropriations riders remain in place during the 117th Congress and beyond,” the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities wrote.

“Do not force Americans to subsidize the taking of innocent life,” they continue. “Oppose any bill, including any appropriations bill, that expands taxpayer funding of abortion.”

As people of faith who value all human life from conception to natural death, we must do all that we can to make sure the Hyde Amendment is not repealed.

Let us pray that we can change hearts and convince members of Congress and the president that we must “save Hyde to save lives.”

—Mike Krokos

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