Named for the late congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, the Hyde Amendment is longstanding federal policy that prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions. However, the policy is not permanent law and must be attached to individual appropriations bills in order to take effect.
House Democratic leaders have pushed for the repeal of the policy in recent years, however, including a group of House members who asked President Joe Biden to leave the policy out of his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year. Biden himself reversed his support for the Hyde Amendment in 2019, and now opposes it.
Last week, the House passed a nearly $2 trillion COVID relief bill without including the Hyde Amendment, a departure from last year’s CARES Act which included the abortion funding restrictions and which received bipartisan support.
In response, Democrats for Life of America is organizing a national Day of Action on April 10, encouraging supporters to contact their members of Congress and urge them to defend the Hyde Amendment.
“We just need as many people to speak up as possible right now,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA in an interview.
“Hyde has saved so many lives by not paying for abortion. When you look at states like California and New Jersey – they both pay for abortion – they have some of the highest abortion rates in the nation. So if you allow more federal funding for abortion more lives are going to be lost,” Day said.
Day told CNA that “this COVID relief bill should not set precedent.”
“As Democrats, we want to make sure that people know there is bipartisan support for Hyde,” Day said, noting that her group is “very disappointed” in the COVID relief bill that passed Congress.
The pro-life group is encouraging its supporters to peacefully demonstrate at their representative and senators’ offices in support of Hyde.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT IS HERE!
DFLA is going to be hosting a nationwide Day of Action to #SAVEHYDE on Saturday, April 10th.
We will tell legislators across America that a broad coalition of voters love the Hyde Amendment and don’t want it taken away from us. pic.twitter.com/KuDDy2vvJv
— Democrats for Life (@demsforlife) March 15, 2021
Because the provision is not permanent law, Day said, “we have this discussion every year.”
Day said that talking to members of the House and Senate appropriations committees is “critical,” particularly members who have supported Hyde in the past.
Members of both the House and Senate attempted to insert pro-life amendments into the COVID relief bill – the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – but their efforts were thwarted.
Pro-life groups, including the U.S. bishops’ conference, warned that without the abortion funding restrictions, billions of dollars in health care spending and funding of state and local governments could go to abortion coverage and abortion providers.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment with Hyde language as the Senate was considering the legislation, but his measure failed to receive the necessary 60 votes for inclusion in the package. Three Democrats – Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Bob Casey (Pa.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) – voted for Lankford’s failed amendment. All three senators ultimately supported the final passage of the relief bill without the pro-life funding protections.
President Biden signed the bill into law on March 10.
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