A group of pro-life Democrats has praised Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for working to preserve a longstanding ban on the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions and is calling on another pro-life Democrat to seek the White House in 2024.
Manchin co-wrote a letter calling on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee to include the Hyde Amendment in the Department of Health and Human Services’ funding bill for fiscal year 2022, slated to begin Oct. 1. The letter, dated Wednesday, was co-authored by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and addressed to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., as well as the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
“We write to express our support for the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in annual appropriations bills on a bipartisan basis since 1976,” they began. The senators explained that “this amendment prohibits federal funding for elective abortion coverage, except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger, through any program funded through the Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act.”
The letter concluded with a warning that “repealing this provision would eliminate over 40 years of bipartisan precedent.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Dan Green, the national communications director for the pro-life group Democrats for Life of America, praised Manchin’s letter as “awesome,” adding, “Joe Manchin has personally promised to us that he’ll do everything he can to save the Hyde Amendment.” According to Green, “We fully expect that he will maintain Hyde … in the Senate and that it ultimately will be in the final bill.”
Manchin’s vow to support the preservation of the Hyde Amendment is significant because of the Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate. Democrats hold 50 of the 100 seats, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. Based on the math, if Manchin and all Republicans oppose the passage of a spending bill without the Hyde Amendment, such a bill would lack the votes necessary to pass in the chamber.
Manchin and Wicker’s plea to save the Hyde Amendment comes as Democrats in the House of Representatives have already taken the first steps to repeal the provision.
Early last week, a House subcommittee approved a spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services that did not include the Hyde Amendment. Later in the week, House Democrats on the powerful House Appropriations Committee blocked an effort by Republicans to restore the Hyde Amendment in the spending bill.
As the full chamber has yet to approve the spending bill omitting Hyde, Democrats for Life of America has worked to put pressure on “Democratic lawmakers who have previously supported Hyde or have identified themselves as Democrats.” The advocacy organization partnered with the pro-life group Students for Life of America to hold two “Mobilize for Hyde” rallies outside the offices of Reps. Brendan Boyle in Philadelphia and Tim Ryan in Akron, Ohio.
Additionally, the group had people drop off #SaveHyde pledges at the offices of 10 additional congressional Democrats asking them not to support a spending bill that did not include the longstanding provision.
Green estimated that about 25 people turned out at each of the two rallies, with an even mix of Students for Life members and DFLA activists. He told CP that his organization planned on holding similar rallies outside the offices of Democratic senators who have supported Hyde in the past, specifically mentioning Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Green contended that it was not necessary to hold a rally outside Manchin’s office because “he has expressed his support” for keeping Hyde. While a date has not been set for such rallies, Green predicted that they will take place sometime in August.
After stressing that “DFLA has grown a ton in the past year,” Green expressed disappointment with how the Biden administration has handled the issue of abortion so far: “Everything that has been done has been very damaging, especially … not including the Hyde Amendment [in the administration’s budget request].”
In addition to criticizing the Biden administration’s abortion policies, Green indicated that DFLA was working to recruit Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-La., to run for president in 2024: “We’re trying to start a draft to get John Bel Edwards to run for president in 2024. … We want John Bel Edwards to run for president, we want a pro-life Democrat running for president and we think he would be an incredible one.”
“I think that despite the challenges right now, I think the pro-life movement is growing, I think it’s becoming more diverse, I see that with our work at DFLA,” he maintained. “In this kind of post-Trump era, I’m seeing a lot of more liberal pro-lifers rise up, some more diverse pro-lifers who come from different backgrounds like atheists, nontraditional backgrounds, and I think we’re starting to build a more bipartisan movement that isn’t just conservatives who are pro-life but are just people from all different backgrounds.”
In addition to Democrats for Life of America, the Susan B. Anthony List also reacted favorably to the fact that a Senate Democrat would speak out in favor of the Hyde Amendment, especially given the Democrats’ narrow margin of control in the chamber and the House Democrats’ efforts to eliminate it.
In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group, thanked Manchin and Wicker for “reaffirming strong bipartisan support for the Hyde Amendment after pro-abortion House Democrats stripped Hyde and other key pro-life policies from their spending bills.”
“Forcing taxpayers to be complicit in the destruction of innocent life by funding abortion on demand through birth is abhorrent,” she added. “House Democrats’ bill is too extreme to pass the Senate and they push a radical political agenda at their own political peril.”
Green agreed that embracing a spending bill without the Hyde Amendment and continuing to embrace far-left policies on abortion would cost Democrats politically. “If the Democrats don’t moderate on this issue, especially in the 2022 midterms, I would expect them to lose a lot of seats because they are doing things that are highly unpopular with the American people in terms of abortion.”
As Manchin and Wicker noted in their letter, “Recent public polls show almost 60 percent of Americans oppose or strongly oppose using taxpayer dollars to support abortion. Both Democrat and Republican presidents have signed the law. It has passed through both Democrat and Republican controlled Congresses.”
Since both the Senate and the House have to agree on the contents of the budget bill, Manchin’s opposition to a spending bill without the Hyde Amendment could pave the way for a stalemate between the two chambers. If the House and the Senate fail to reach an agreement by midnight on Oct. 1, the government will shut down unless lawmakers agree to support a continuing resolution that will fund most of the federal government at existing levels of spending for a limited period of time.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org