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House members urge Biden to restore Hyde Amendment to budget proposals

Pres. Biden’s proposed $6 trillion budget does not include language that would prohibit federal funding for abortions

WASHINGTON — Proposing a budget without the Hyde Amendment “is an affront to the majority of Americans who do not want their tax dollars funding abortion on demand resulting in the death of children in the womb,” 172 members of the U.S. House wrote in a July 1 letter to President Joe Biden.

“Years ago, you wrote a constituent explaining that a law against funding for abortion would ‘protect both the woman and her unborn child,’” their letter said. “You wrote: ‘I have consistently — on no fewer than 50 occasions — voted against federal funding of abortions. … Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.’”

Then-Sen. Biden made those comments in a 1994 letter to a constituent concerned that health care reform proposals being weighed by Congress at the time would include abortion coverage.

In his 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics,” Biden wrote: “I’ve stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years. I still vote against partial-birth abortion and federal funding.”

Biden’s proposed $6 trillion budget for fiscal year 2022, which he released May 28, includes his nearly $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. It would invest heavily in areas the president has said are his top priorities including infrastructure, education, research, public health, paid family leave and child care.

In his proposed budget, the letter said, Biden calls “for the removal of the Hyde Amendment and several modest, long-standing pro-life protections that have long been the subjects of legislative consensus.”

“Your budget breaks with this historic bipartisanship,” it said. “Your budget would double down on forcing taxpayers to fund plans that cover elective abortion by permanently establishing premium tax credits and support a so-called ‘public option’ for a government-run health insurance that would cover abortion.”

The Hyde Amendment first became law in 1976 to prohibit federal funds appropriated through the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and related agencies from being used to cover abortion or fund health plans that cover abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered.

Hyde has been reenacted in spending bills every year since it was first passed.

Over 2.4 million people are alive today because of Hyde, the House members wrote, citing statistics from over 20 peer-reviewed studies. About 60,000 children are “spared death by abortion every year” under Hyde and their mothers have benefited from prenatal health care and support, they said.

Biden’s proposed budget increases funding for abortion providers — “both domestically,” through Title X, “and internationally,” through the U.N. Population Fund, known as UNFPA.

Title X, enacted by the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, currently provides about $286 million a year for reproductive health care for low-income patients, in addition to wellness exams, cervical and breast cancer screenings, contraceptives, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Section 1008 of the law states that “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

In February 2019, the Trump administration implemented the “Protect Life Rule” enforcing Section 1008, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule in February 2020. The Biden administration has ended the Trump policy.

Biden has proposed $56 million of his budget for the State Department go to UNFPA and, according to the House members’ letter, he has removed “even the modest protections signed into law by President Barack Obama to prohibit UNFPA from funding abortions...”

“Mr. President, if your words (on Inauguration Day) that the ‘dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer’ are to have true meaning, the lives of unborn children must be included, and their previous lives must be protected,” the letter said.

“Justice demands that the Hyde Amendment and all pro-life protections be reinstated in your budget request and maintained in the appropriations legislation for fiscal 2022,” it added.

A recent poll found that nearly 60% of Americans oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion, it said. “Americans should not be forced to fund an act that denies the most basic human right, the right to life, to unborn children.”

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