200 House Republicans sign letter to protect Hyde Amendment
Senator Kamala Harris criticizes Former Vice President Joe Biden’s previous position on the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, during a Democratic debate on July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Republicans, who argue that the amendment prevents taxpayers with moral objections to abortions from funding the procedures through Medicaid, have been pushing back against the possibility of President Biden repealing the law.
"Repealing these pro-life provisions would destroy nearly half a century of bipartisan consensus," the letter addressed to House leaders and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. "Each year since 1976, Congress has included Hyde protections in annually enacted appropriations."
The amendment is part of annual appropriations bills that Congress votes on annually.
The letter authored by Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and Steve Scalise, R-La., notes that former President Obama "maintained the Hyde Amendment in each of his budget proposals" and that Biden's stance on the amendment has flip-flopped in recent years as pressure mounts for him to take action against Hyde.
Banks and Scalise also include research from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life nonprofit, in the letter that found the Hyde Amendment may have prevented an estimated 2 million abortions since Hyde was enacted in 1976.
"We cannot allow the Hyde Amendment and other important pro-life safeguards to be decimated by Congressional Democrats. Accordingly, we pledge to vote against any government funding bill that eliminates or weakens the Hyde Amendment or other current-law, pro-life appropriations provisions," the letter states.
Some progressive Democrats argue that the amendment infringes on women's rights to get abortions using federal Medicaid benefits and disproportionately affects marginalized women.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has repeatedly called on Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment, saying in a Jan. 22 tweet that after 48 years since Roe v. Wade was enacted, "systemic barriers to accessing abortions and other reproductive health care still exist."
"Congress must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine Roe into federal law, and pass the EACH Woman Act to repeal the Hyde Amendment," she said.
The average cost of an abortion in the U.S. is about $500, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred to Biden as a "devout Catholic" last week in response to a question from an EWTN Global Catholic Network reporter asking how the new president planned to address the Hyde Amendment.
"I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly," Psaki said. "He started his day attending church with his family this morning but I don't have anything more for you on that."