How many votes does it take to kill the Hyde Amendment? House Democrats discovered the answer last night, when they voted along party lines, 219-208, to pass the first appropriations bill in 45 years (since 1976) without the Hyde Amendment. A procedural vote that would have restored the Hyde Amendment was defeated 217-208, also along party lines. The labor and HHS appropriations bill now heads to the Senate, where it remains to be seen whether moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin (W.Va.) will fight to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortion.
The Democrats only defeated the Hyde Amendment by uniting against it. Their current majority in the U.S. House is only 220 seats, a five-seat advantage over Republicans. If a mere handful of House Democrats still favored the Hyde Amendment, they could have ensured that it was included in the final passage. Or if the irregular practice of "proxy" voting was brought to an end, Pelosi may not have had sufficient votes. But, as the vote showed, no Democrat voted to support the Hyde Amendment, and nearly every Democrat voted against it, in a bill that passed by the narrowest of margins. This episode presents a stark contrast to the last time an appropriations bill came before Congress without Hyde protections in 1993. Despite a much larger Democratic majority (258 seats), Congress actually reinserted Hyde back into the bill. Every House Democrat today is more radically pro-abortion than dozens of House Democrats 28 years ago.
Not content with stripping out the Hyde amendment, the Democrats excised other pro-life amendments as well. While the Hyde Amendment prevents taxpayer dollars from funding elective abortions at home, the Helms Amendment has prevented taxpayer dollars from funding elective abortions overseas for 45 years. House Democrats excluded the Helms Amendment from the state and foreign operations appropriations bill, which the House also passed 217-212, with only three Democrats opposing. Democrats also eliminated the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which prevents taxpayers from funding coercive abortions and sterilizations, and instead boosted funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which has cooperated with China's coercive abortion regime.
There was a time when abortion advocates insisted they wanted abortion to become "safe, legal, and rare." No longer. Now, abortion proponents are demanding abortion be subsidized at taxpayer expense. When you subsidize something, you get more of it. In fact, the Charlotte Lozier Institute estimated the Hyde Amendment has saved more than two million babies from abortion. That means it has also saved mothers of more than two million babies from the trauma of abortion and has saved taxpayers from paying for more than two million abortions. While House Democrats have grown more radically pro-abortion, a 2021 Marist poll found 58 percent of Americans are still opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion. They may pay at the polls in 2022 for their precedent-breaking rejection of the Hyde Amendment.
Fortunately, the House Democrats have only won one minuscule skirmish in a colossal war. The federal government can funnel money to abortion in many different ways, as FRC's Issue Analysis explains. Although Democrats in Congress may be working to fund abortion, many states are working to defund it, as you can see on our interactive pro-life maps. And Republican senators are bringing attention to the Biden administration's attempt to promote abortion through repealing President Trump's pro-life policies. For now, though, the next fight will be in the Senate, where radical abortion advocates will pressure senators to keep the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life protections out of the bill. Your senators need to hear from you, and you can contact them and tell them to save Hyde.