WASHINGTON (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics entity and other pro-life organizations are urging Congress to restore long-standing bans on federal funding of abortion that President Biden excluded from his proposed budget.
On May 28, Biden released a $6 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 that failed to include the 45-year-old Hyde Amendment and other pro-life policies in federal programs. If Biden’s proposal succeeds, it would mark the first time since 1976 the Hyde Amendment has not been enacted.
The Hyde Amendment, which must be approved each year as a “rider” to a spending bill, prohibits federal funds in Medicaid and other programs from paying for abortions. The ban is estimated to have saved the lives of more than 2 million unborn children.
The Senate, which is equally divided by party, provides hope that pro-lifers will be able to prevent eventual elimination of the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life riders from the budget. Forty-eight Republican senators have promised they will vote to block attempts to eradicate or diminish such protections in a chamber that requires 60 votes to end a filibuster intended to block passage of a proposal.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) maintained its call for protection of the Hyde Amendment and other abortion funding bans.
“While this move by the Biden administration is unsurprising, it is a harmful departure from accepted precedent,” said Elizabeth Graham, the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives. “Thankfully, this is just a proposal. Congress should ignore this and recommit to including the Hyde Amendment – as well as all pro-life policy riders – to ensure no taxpayer resources are used for abortion.
“The protection of preborn lives and safeguarding of taxpayer consciences are not areas to be compromised.”
In a letter the day before Biden released his proposed budget, more than 60 pro-life leaders asked party leadership in both the Senate and House of Representatives to maintain the bans on federal money for abortions.
The actual number of this bill will not be determined until the special session is called by the Governor.”
A majority of Americans support such bans. A January public opinion survey found 58 percent of adults “oppose” or “strongly oppose” taxpayer funding of abortion domestically. The survey, released by Marist Poll and commissioned by The Knights of Columbus, also showed opposition by 31 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of those who identified themselves as pro-choice.
Biden supported the Hyde Amendment during his 36 years in the Senate but reversed his position while running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019.
Democratic opposition to what was once a bipartisan amendment has grown in recent years. Leaders in the Democratic-controlled House have told some members they would not include the Hyde Amendment in spending bills this year, the Los Angeles Times reported. Democrats who oppose Hyde describe it as a justice issue for low-income and minority women.
In addition to Hyde, riders the ERLC and other pro-life organizations are calling for Congress to continue to approve are the:
• Weldon Amendment, which has barred since 2004 funding for government programs that discriminate against health care providers – individuals or institutions – that object to abortion.
• Helms Amendment, a rider first approved in 1973 that prohibits foreign aid funds from being used for abortion as a method of family planning.
• Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a 1985 measure that bans family planning money from going to any organization that is involved in a program of forced abortion or sterilization.
• Dornan Amendment, a rider first approved in 1988 that has barred in most of the years since federal funds, as well as congressionally approved local ones, from paying for elective abortions in the District of Columbia.
• Siljander Amendment, which has prohibited foreign assistance funds from covering the cost of lobbying for or against abortion since 1981.
Biden’s proposed budget would eliminate the Dornan Amendment and undermine the Helms, Kemp-Kasten and Siljander amendments, according to a congressional staff analysis referenced by the National Right to Life Committee.
In a letter released on June 4, the Missouri Right to Life criticized Biden’s removal of the Hyde amendment, saying, “The Biden Administration will stop at nothing to promote abortion across the U.S.”
Missouri Right to Life also called Missouri’s lawmakers “to attach language to the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) legislation that would prevent our federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions and abortion-causing drugs.” This legislation failed to pass in the Missouri General Assembly this spring, though it could be addressed during a special session called by the governor.