Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortion. As a result of the Hyde Amendment, over 2 million Americans are alive today. To learn more see this op-ed in The Federalist and watch FRC Action’s new ad.
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) was a tireless warrior for preborn babies, as this transcript clearly depicts. In 1976, only three years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, he introduced the Hyde Amendment to stop taxpayer funding of abortion. From 1973 to 1977, the federal government spent about $50 million annually to fund about 300,000 abortions per year under Medicaid. He wanted to put an end to this, saying we “cannot in logic and conscience help fund the execution of these innocent, defenseless human lives.”
The Hyde Amendment is one of the spending bills Congress must pass each year. It has been renewed every year since and signed into law by both Republican and Democrat presidents. In 1980, the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde Amendment in the 5-4 Harris v. McRae landmark decision. Hillary Clinton has promised to make repealing the Hyde Amendment a key priority if she becomes president. In addition, this year’s Democratic Party platform for the first time ever called for its repeal. In contrast, Donald Trump has pledged to make the Hyde Amendment permanent. Congress must enact the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7, S. 582) to codify the Hyde Amendment and to apply it across the government, including Obamacare.
Below, we reprint from the Congressional Record, Rep. Henry Hyde’s remarks when he first introduced his famous amendment in 1976, and again in 1977. Hyde’s remarks show his incredible passion not only to stop the taxpayer funding of abortion, but also to end all killing of preborn babies.
Thank you Rep. Henry Hyde for standing up for the rights of unborn babies, and happy anniversary to the Hyde Amendment that has saved over 2 million lives.
June 24, 1976
Mr. HYDE Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. HYDE: On page 36, after line 9, add the following new section:
“Sec. 209. None of the funds appropriated under this Act shall be used to pay for abortions or to promote or encourage abortions.”
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment may stimulate a lot of debate—but it need not—because I believe most Members know how they will vote on this issue.
Nevertheless, there are those of us who believe it Is to the everlasting shame of this country that in 1973 approximately 800,000 legal abortions were performed in this country—and so it is fair to assume that this year over a million human lives will be destroyed because they are inconvenient to someone.
The unborn child facing an abortion can best be classified as a member of the innocently inconvenient and since the pernicious doctrine that some lives are more important than others seems to be persuasive with the pro-abortion forces, we who seek to protect that most defenseless and innocent of human lives, the unborn—seek to inhibit the use of Federal funds to pay for and thus encourage abortion as an answer to the human and compelling problem of an unwanted child.
We are all exercised at the wanton killing of the porpoise, the baby seal. We urge big game hunters to save the tiger, but we somehow turn away at the specter of a million human beings being violently destroyed because this great society does not want them.
And make no mistake, an abortion is violent.
I think in the final analysis, you must determine whether or not the unborn person is human. If you think it is animal or vegetable then of course, it is disposable like an empty beer can to be crushed and thrown out with the rest of the trash.
But medicine, biology, embryology say that growing living organism is not animal or vegetable or mineral – but it is a human life.
And if you believe that human life is deserving of due process of law—of equal protection of the laws, then you cannot in logic and conscience help fund the execution of these innocent defenseless human lives.
If we are to order our lives by the precepts of animal husbandry, then I guess abortion is an acceptable answer. If we human beings are not of a higher order than animals then let us save our pretentious aspirations for a better and more just world and recognize this is an anthill we inhabit and there are no such things as ideals or justice or morality.
Once conception has occurred a new and unique genetic package has been created, not a potential human being but a human being with potential. For nine months the mother provides nourishment and shelter, and birth is no substantial change, it is merely a change of address.
We are told that bringing an unwanted child into the world is an obscene act. Unwanted by whom? Is it too subtle a notion to understand it is more important to be a loving person than to be one who is loved? We need more people who are capable of projecting love.
We hear the claim that the poor are denied a right available to other women if we do not use tax money to fund abortions.
Well make a list of all the things society denies poor women and let them make the choice of what we will give them.
Don’t say “poor woman, go destroy your young, and we will pay for it.”
An innocent, defenseless human life, in a caring and humane society deserves better than to be flushed down a toilet or burned in an incinerator.
The promise of America is that life is not just for the privileged, the planned, or the perfect.
Hyde Amendment Passes, Roll Call: 207-167 (57 Not Voting)
Congressional Record, House, Vol. 122, pt. 15, 20410
June 17, 1977
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Hyde:
On page 39, after line 23. add the following new section:
"Sec. 209. None of the funds appropriated under this Act shall be used to pay for abortions or to promote or encourage abortions.”
(By unanimous consent. Mr. HYDE was allowed to proceed for 5 additional minutes.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Chairman, I regret that I must abbreviate this amendment to exclude the therapeutic abortion qualification, the absence of which was raised as a great argument against this amendment when it was offered last session. So it went through with no exceptions whatsoever. And in the conference committee we were able to put in the therapeutic abortion exemption where the claim for a life is equal to a claim for a life. But I am forced into this position today by points of order. So be it.
Yesterday, remarks were made that it is unfortunate to burden an appropriations bill with complex issues, such as busing, abortion and the like. I certainly agree that it is very unfortunate. The problem Is that there is no other vehicle that reaches this floor in which these complex issues can be involved. Constitutional amendments which prohibit abortions stay languishing in subcommittee much less committee, and so the only vehicle where the Members may work their will, unfortunately, is an appropriation bill. I regret that. I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the HEW Medicaid bill. A life is a life. The life of a little ghetto kid is just as important as the life of a rich person. And so we proceed in this bill.
Lest anyone think it is aberrational that millions of people are concerned about our tax dollars paying for the slaughter of innocent, inconvenient, unborn children, I point out that this Is no novel position. In most every session. There is a bill, HR 4897 this session, which provides that a taxpayer conscientiously opposed to participation in war may elect that his income, estate, or gift tax payments be spent for nonmilitary purposes. This creates a trust fund, the world peace tax fund.
Many people, I am sure, who will speak today against my position, the pro-life position, are vigorous supporters of H.R. 4897.
But if it is wrong to spend money for defense of this country, then may we not object to spending millions of tax dollars for the slaughter of innocent children?
I think it is important to clarify the constitutional issue that is involved in this question. In the first place, conceding that under Roe against Wade a woman has a constitutional right to seek an abortion, the question here is whether it is mandatory that the taxpayers pay for that abortion.
The Washington Star’s editorial last Tuesday put this issue in perspective when it said:
The glib argument that it is a denial of the 14th Amendment equal protection to deny Medicaid subsidy to abortions strikes us as overingenious.
This Government, through the National Endowment for the Humanities subsidizes writers all over the country. Is it then a burden on our first amendment rights to free expression to deny a tax -paid printing press to everyone in the street who wants one? Clearly not.
The Solicitor General of the United States said this:
There Is no right to receive an abortion. The privacy right vindicated in Roe v. Wade and Doe v Bolton Is not the right affirmatively to obtain an abortion, but rather the lesser right to be free to seek abortion services without governmental obstruction or Interference. The Government has no constitutional obligation financially to facilitate the exercise of privacy rights. Its constitutional duty Is merely to refrain from violating such rights.
We spend about $50 million a year to pay for about 300,000 abortions under Medicaid. The contention has been made by respectable sources that it costs too much to bring these welfare kids into the world, it is much cheaper to abort them. This argument even the Washington Post said was terrible and inhumane.
One of the "Dear Colleague" letters that came from a distinguished Member of this body called the paying of the bill for the welfare kids "economic imprudence." Well, I cannot accept that argument.
We have heard both sides of the argument: If we deny Medicaid abortions, the women are going to have kids anyway; therefore, let them have abortions in a safe place. The other side of the argument is: If we deny Medicaid abortions, we are going to have an explosion of welfare children, and it is going to cost us a lot of money. Which way is it? Are we going to have a lot of costly welfare kids or are women going to get their abortions anyway? As far as I am concerned, every welfare study I have seen shows these children will be born and not slaughtered, and I am prepared to pay the price to see that they get an education, decent housing, and adequate clothing.
I have read every pro-abortion editorial I can lay my hands on and every article I could find, and they all emphasize that the decent and economic and compassionate thing to do is to let these welfare mothers abort their unborn children. Never do they discuss the essential question, the humanity of the unborn.”
What is it that is being aborted? Is it a chicken? Is it a tumor? Is it animal? Is it vegetable? Is it mineral? Is it a bad tooth to be pulled out, or is it a diseased appendix to be cut out and thrown away? No. It is a human being.
Theology does not say it is a human being; biology says it is a human being. Theology does not say, “Thou shalt not kill a fetus”; it is biology that says “Thou shalt not kill a fetus.” That is a part of the tradition and the criminal code subscribed to on the part of individuals in every civilized nation. This is what biology says. Let us quit kidding ourselves. This is human life.
Mr. Chairman, let me read a quotation from the California Medical Association Journal. This is not a religious publication, I assure the Members. In an editorial the California Medical Association said as follows:
… It has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra- uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices.
So why do we not face up that abortion does not merely "terminate a pregnancy" nor remove the "products of conception" from a deactivated womb? It is the calculated killing of an innocent, inconvenient human being.
The old argument that we who oppose abortion are trying to impose our religious concepts on other people is totally absurd. Theology does not animate me; biology does. That is a human life; that is not a potential human life; it is a human life with potential.
When a pregnant woman, who should be the natural protector of her unborn child, becomes its deadly adversary, then it is the duty of this legislature to intervene on behalf of defenseless human life.
If that is not so, I do not know why we need this building or why we need law libraries.
By what right do the pro-abortionists seek to deny us access to the political process? That is what we are engaged in today. If they say we have no right to seek to get written into law protection for innocent life, if they say, “No” to us, they turn back 200 years of this country’s history.
I used to think that abortionists had a world view of humanity as animalistic, and that these people feel that the rules of animal husbandry are sufficient to cope with the problems of poverty and need in the ghetto. But I am wrong. I am absolutely wrong.
We think more of animals than we do of human beings. Do the Members realize that today is Whale Survival Day? Today, June 17, in Lafayette Park, there is going to be music, there will be celebrities and whale experts, and there will be whale art, and this is all done in the campaign to save the endangered whale.
There is some kind of schizophrenia that makes us want to protect the snail darter, the baby harp seal, the whale, and the dolphin, and not to be concerned about human life and our unborn children. In our wisdom and compassion, we put a limit on the number of dolphins that can be eliminated; that number is 69,910. You kill one more, and you go to the slammer. But there is no limit on the number of unborn children that are slaughtered simply because they are inconvenient.
We now what a dolphin can do. It can jump through a hoop and eat a guppie. But somehow that is more important to this Congress and more important than human beings.
Under the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 it is a crime to take possession of a bald eagle’s egg. That seems to be more important than a human life.
Is it not sad that we give more concern to the protection of migratory birds and wild horses than we do to human beings?
The CHAIRMAN. The time of the gentleman from Illinois (MR. HYDE) has expired.
(By unanimous consent, MR. HYDE was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)
Mr. HYDE. I just want to make this comment, Mr. Chairman: We can tell the ghetto mother that she is going to have to fight for everything which the middle-class woman has, such as education, housing, clothing, and food; but then we can say, “We will give you one thing. We will give it to you and we will pay for it. We will let you kill your young.”
Mr. Chairman, the problem of the unwanted child is a human problem. The violent act of abortion is no solution. It is the failure to look for a solution.
Mr. Chairman, I was in Jerusalem recently. I visited a building complex to memorialize the 6 million dead in the holocaust. It is called the Yad Vashem. There is a legend there from the Talmud. It says, “He who saves one soul saves humanity.”
Mr. Chairman, I ask the Members to think about that when they vote on my amendment.
Hyde Amendment Passes, Roll Call: 201-155 (77 Not Voting)