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These pro-life amendments could be on the Biden budget chopping block

They keep American taxpayers out of the abortion business. Congress should reject any budget without them

An activist demonstrates at the 2020 March for Life in Washington. Pro-life legislators should be prepared to fight for protections in the Hyde “family” of amendments without fear, Dannenfelser writes.
An activist demonstrates at the 2020 March for Life in Washington. Pro-life legislators should be prepared to fight for protections in the Hyde “family” of amendments without fear, Dannenfelser writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden followed through on a major campaign promise to the abortion lobby — and broke with decadeslong bipartisan consensus — by signing a massive stimulus bill without pro-life Hyde Amendment protections. In the guise of COVID-19 relief, the so-called American Rescue Plan was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion since Obamacare. 

Now with the administration’s budget proposal expected this week, a slew of life-saving policies modeled after Hyde could also be on the chopping block. 

It’s no idle threat. Biden’s “skinny” budget preview released in April hinted at the coming open season on unborn children and their mothers. Among other alarming provisions, the preliminary request included a $340 million (18.7 percent) funding increase for Title X to “improve access to vital reproductive and preventative health services and advance gender and health equity” (woke-speak for abortion) and funding for the United Nations Population Fund – which has a long history of complicity in forced abortions in China – “including for the repayment of arrears, where applicable.” 

During the campaign, when Biden came out against the Hyde Amendment after decades of support, he signaled his unconditional surrender to radical pro-abortion voices within his party. Emboldened by the White House, pro-abortion Democrats in Congress won’t stop until every pro-life policy is rolled back, and the impact would be more wide-ranging than most Americans realize. 

First passed in 1976, the original Hyde Amendment prevents funding of abortion on demand via Medicaid and other programs funded through the Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 2.5 million of our fellow Americans are alive today because of Hyde. Over time, the Hyde Amendment has come to stand for the larger principle that Americans should never be forced to participate in abortion in any form — whether by directly paying for abortions, subsidizing abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, funding groups that promote abortion on demand overseas, or by any of the myriad ways the abortion lobby seeks to exploit the public purse.   

Together, nearly two dozen amendments in the Hyde “family” work to protect the most vulnerable and keep American taxpayers out of the abortion business, both in the United States and abroad.

On the domestic front, the Dornan Amendment — sometimes referred to as “D.C. Hyde” — saves an estimated 1,400 to1,500 lives a year just in the District of Columbia, while the Smith Amendment prevents funding for abortion on demand through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program. When it comes to the use of American dollars around the world, the Helms Amendment bans international aid from funding abortion on demand as a method of family planning, while the Siljander Amendment stops funding for lobbying for abortion overseas. With 77 percent of Americans opposed to using taxpayer dollars to promote abortion overseas, and 58 percent opposed to using taxpayer money to fund abortions in the U.S., these policies are firmly in line with popular consensus. 

The Hyde family tree also includes federal conscience protections. Hyde-Weldon forbids government discrimination against health care entities that do not participate in abortion. It is this amendment that was unilaterally reinterpreted by the Obama-Biden administration, was flagrantly ignored by the state of California under then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and would be violated by the Biden-Harris administration’s proposal to rewrite the rules of Title X to require abortion referrals. A lesser-known cousin, the Nickles Amendment, explicitly allows pro-life health care entities to participate in Medicare Advantage programs. 

A third category of amendments blocks taxpayer funding for unethical experiments that manipulate nascent human life. We already know the Biden-Harris administration has no scruples whatsoever about forcing Americans to fund grisly experiments using body parts harvested from unborn children killed in abortions, reversing progress made under the Trump-Pence administration. One of the next targets could be the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bans funding for research that destroys human embryos. 

Among miscellaneous others, there is even a Biden Amendment, named for — you guessed it — the erstwhile U.S. senator from Delaware, which prohibits non-military foreign assistance funds from being used for biomedical research involving abortions or (as seen in China) involuntary sterilization as a means of family planning. Let’s hope Biden does not plan to cancel himself. 

How far the Biden budget will push the envelope remains to be seen, but the removal of any one of these policies could have devastating consequences — particularly for minority communities that disproportionately bear the heavy toll of Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism — and would significantly raise the stakes of negotiations.  

In a time of intense division, preserving the vital, common ground protections in the Hyde family offers a chance to promote the unity that Biden promised and thus far has failed to deliver. Pro-life legislators should be prepared to fight for them without fear, and every member of Congress should be confident in rejecting any budget without them. 

Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. 

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