Pro-life leaders praise House vote to make Hyde Amendment permanent


passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, making the 41-year-old
Hyde Amendment permanent, puts the country “one step closer to getting the
federal government out of the business of paying for abortion once and for all,”
said the president of National Right to Life.

“Over 2 million Americans
are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment,” Carol Tobias said in
a statement.

By a 238-183 vote Jan. 24, House
members passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion
Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. It was sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith,
Jersey, co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. President Donald J.
Trump indicated before the House vote he would sign the measure if it comes to his

“Two million people who would
have been aborted instead survived because public funds were unavailable to
effectuate their violent demise, while their mothers benefited from prenatal
health care and support,” Smith said in a statement. “Two million survivors
have had the opportunity to live and enjoy the first and most basic of all
human rights — the right to life.”

The 2 million figure he and
Tobias cited comes from a report issued late last year by the Charlotte Lozier
Institute on more than 20 peer-reviewed studies indicating that many
lives have been saved since the Hyde Amendment was introduced in 1976.

“As hundreds of thousands
of Americans flock to Washington for the March for Life (Jan. 27), we must
never forget that defending all of our people — especially the defenseless —
must be our top priority if we want to be a good and moral nation,” House
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said in a statement.

“By passing this
legislation, the House has taken a decisive step toward respect for unborn
human life, reflecting the will of the American people,” said Deirdre McQuade,
primary spokeswoman on abortion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In
a Jan. 25 statement, she said the USCCB “hopes that the U.S. Senate will take
up this vital legislation soon.”

H.R. 7, which is identical to
bills that passed in 2014 and 2015, make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which
prohibits tax dollars from paying for abortion except in cases of rape, incest
or threat to the woman’s life. The amendment, which covers programs
administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, has had to be
renewed annually by Congress in its appropriations bill.

“Polling consistently shows that
a supermajority of Americans — 61 percent, according to a Marist poll released (Jan.
23) — oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and eight in 10 Americans think
laws can protect both the well-being of a woman and the health of her unborn
child,” Smith added.

Prior to the House vote,
New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for
Pro-Life Activities, urged lawmakers to “write into permanent law a policy on
which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for more than
40 years: The federal government should not use its funding power to support
and promote elective abortion, and should not force taxpayers to subsidize this

In remarks on the House floor
before the vote, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, told fellow lawmakers: “Although
we may not agree on all the vicissitudes of abortion, one thing is certain,
some day, we, as a society, will look back and we will recognize the humanity
of these little children of God and the inhumanity of what is being done to
them and we will regret these days.

“Until then, at least, can’t we
get together and say that we shouldn’t force taxpayers to pay for the killing
of innocent, little human beings?” he asked. “I pray that we can open our eyes
to see that truth.”

According to Smith, the measure
also will ensure that the federal Affordable Care Act, “until repeal,” conforms
with the Hyde Amendment. Until there is a new health care law, he added, the
bill also will “ensure full disclosure, transparency and the prominent display
of the extent to which any health insurance plan on the exchange funds

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado,
who is co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, told Mother Jones the House
vote seems “like a slap in the face after we had over a million women marching
in Washington and around the country.” She was referring to the Woman’s
March on Washington Jan. 21, which organizers said drew about 500,000 participants.

“House passage of this
legislation is the first step toward fulfilling a promise made by President
Trump to keep taxpayers out of the abortion business,” said Marjorie
Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

“He and his administration are
working for the American people, not the abortion lobby,” she added. “We urge
the U.S. Senate to follow suite so that this bill can get to President Trump’s
desk as soon as possible.”

Father Frank Pavone, national
director of Priests for Life, said it “is time for the Senate to move as
quickly as the House to follow the will of the American people, who
overwhelmingly do not want to pay for abortions.”

In January 2014, when the No
Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was first introduced, an official with the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities testified on behalf of the

“Even public officials who
take a ‘pro-choice’ stand on abortion have supported bans on public funding as
a ‘middle ground’ on this contentious issue — in recognition of the fact that
it is not ‘pro-choice’ to force others to fund a procedure to which they have
fundamental objections,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, then associate
director of the secretariat.

“And even courts insisting
on a constitutional ‘right’ to abortion have said that this alleged right
‘implies no limitation on the authority of a state to make a value judgment
favoring childbirth over abortion, and to implement that judgment by the
allocation of public funds,'” he said.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article