For forty years, the Hyde Amendment to federal spending bills has been a bipartisan provision that prevents forcing American taxpayers from directly paying for most abortions. Congressional Democrats are now moving to scrap the legislative step that has saved more than 2 million lives.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed the proposed budget on July 12 by House Democrats very visibly omits the Hyde Amendment language. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, stated, “Allowing the Hyde Amendment to remain on the books is a disservice to our constituents. We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families, and our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment once and for all.”
The move by House Democrats falls in line with President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget, which also omits the Hyde Amendment. Although Biden had supported the Hyde Amendment for his entire political career before last year’s presidential election, he changed his position while receiving pressure from the progressive wing of his party.
During his campaign in 2019, Biden was questioned about telling an activist that he would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment. His handlers later claimed that Biden had misheard the question and still supported the amendment. His campaign added that he might change his mind depending on “draconian attempts to limit access to abortion.” The time for making his support for federal abortion funding concrete has now arrived.
The head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said her organization is “absolutely thrilled.” Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement: “For far too long, the racist and sexist Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes.”
While a budget directly funding abortions is expected to be approved by the House, the battle in the evenly split Senate is likely to be fierce. Democrats cannot spare a single vote in favor of an abortion budget.
As recently as June, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) vowed that he is “going to support Hyde in every way possible.” Manchin’s willingness to bend to the progressives when voting and to appease his conservative voting base with rhetoric will place him at the fore during the Senate budget debate.