Pro-life lawmakers and advocacy groups are slamming House Democrats for taking the first step in passing a federal budget without a guarantee that taxpayer funds will not be used to fund abortions.
The House subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies approved a spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services Monday that did not include Hyde Amendment protections that prevent federal tax dollars from paying for abortions. The bill passed the subcommittee via a voice vote, which was expected in light of the Democratic majority.
Shortly before its passage, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the influential House Appropriations Committee as well as the subcommittee, proclaimed that “this bill advances equal treatment for women not only by increasing funding for the range of health services including family planning covered by Title X, but also by repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment.”
DeLauro acknowledged that “this is an issue on which many of us disagree but regardless of the original intent of Hyde, it has disproportionately impacted women of color and it has ultimately led to more unintended pregnancies and later, riskier and more costly abortions.” She alleged that “allowing the Hyde Amendment to remain on the books is a disservice not only to our constituents but also to the values we espouse as a nation.”
“We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families, our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment once and for all,” she added. While the elimination of the Hyde Amendment was enthusiastically supported by DeLauro and her Democratic colleagues, her Republican colleagues lamented the elimination of the longstanding conscience protection.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, expressed concern that in addition to scrapping the Hyde Amendment, the HHS appropriations bill “removes language carried in the last 16 years that protects American doctors and nurses from being forced to participate in abortions.” Granger warned that “this shift in policy could actually destroy decades of bipartisan work.”
“Unless this longstanding compromise protecting human life is restored, this bill should not move forward. My colleagues and I … are going to have to strongly oppose it because it’s out of step with the views of most Americans, it is just that simple,” she added.
Granger maintained that “restoring language that protects the lives of unborn children and protects Americans from being forced to participate … with their tax dollars [in] what they believe to be the taking of innocent life” is a necessary prerequisite for the appropriations bill’s passage.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the ranking member of the subcommittee, echoed Granger’s concerns, asserting that the longstanding provision allowing medical professionals to refuse to perform abortions is “an essential right of every American.” According to Cole, “Its removal is a danger to us all.”
“Even President Biden’s budget did not propose the removal of that important language,” he said. “Everyone in this room knows this bill will never pass the United States Senate without their inclusion and the majority of the American people support that inclusion.”
While Cole shared his disapproval of many aspects of the bill, he guaranteed that “the removal of the language that protects the lives of unborn American children and the rights of Americans to freely exercise their conscience will never see the president’s desk as written.”
The leaders of pro-life advocacy groups shared congressional Republicans’ displeasure with the HHS appropriations package.
In a statement released Monday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, slammed “Biden-Pelosi Democrats” for “scrapping decades of bipartisan consensus to force taxpayers to fund abortion” and “doubling down on extremism to appease an increasingly radical base.” Additionally, she characterized the bill as “too extreme to pass the Senate and a major political liability for pro-abortion Democrats.”
As Dannenfelser and congressional Republicans have suggested, the appropriations bill has a more difficult path to passage in the U.S. Senate. Democrats have a 50-50 majority in the upper chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
However, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who serves on the evenly divided Senate Appropriations Committee, told Bloomberg News last month that he was “going to support Hyde in every way possible,” raising questions about Democrats’ ability to pass a bill without Hyde Amendment protections.
The bill’s approval by the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies Subcommittee comes after President Joe Biden released a budget proposal that did not include Hyde Amendment protections and House Democrats made it clear that they would work to eliminate the Hyde Amendment if Democrats gained complete control of the federal government.
Last year, DeLauro indicated that “while the Labor/HHS/Education bill has carried the Hyde Amendment every year since 1976, this is the last year.”
Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House and pro-life groups are already working to ensure the defeat of the bill in the full House. The pro-life group Democrats for Life of America held “Mobilize for Hyde” rallies at the offices of 12 House Democrats who had “previously supported Hyde or have identified themselves as pro-life Democrats in the past,” noting that based on the current makeup of the chamber, “We only need 5 of them to commit to save it.”
“Mobilize for Hyde” rallies took place Friday at the local offices of Reps. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Troy Carter, D-La., Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Mike Doyle, D-Pa., Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, Conor Lamb, D-Pa., Jim Langevin, D-R.I., Steve Lynch, D-Mass., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. None of the aforementioned lawmakers serve on the aforementioned subcommittee.
The failure of the fiscal year 2022 appropriations package for the Department of Health and Human Services to include Hyde Amendment protections is not the first time that congressional Democrats have snubbed the longstanding ban on taxpayer funding for abortions this year. The coronavirus stimulus package passed earlier this year failed to include Hyde Amendment protections for its “funding streams that fall outside of existing limits on abortion funding.”
Fiscal year 2021 concludes on Sept. 30 and a budget for fiscal year 2022 must pass before midnight on Oct. 1 to avert a government shutdown. If the two chambers of Congress cannot come to an agreement, lawmakers might elect to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at existing levels by approving a package funding most of the federal government for a short period of time.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org