40 Years Ago Today, the Hyde Amendment Became Law

“The Amendment saves about 60,000 people per year, and has saved 2.13 million children since its inception.”

Forty years ago today, the Hyde Amendment became law. The first major pro-life victory after Roe v. Wade, the annual budget rider prevents federal funding from paying for most abortions.

Rep. Henry Hyde’s legacy has saved more than two million babies from abortion. As I reported at The Stream this morning:

However, [Dr. Michael] New, an associate scholar of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and political scientist at the University of Michigan, found that Hyde has saved over two million children from abortion. As described in the report’s Executive Summary, the Amendment saves about 60,000 people per year, and has saved 2.13 million children since its inception.

“Two million lives saved is reason to celebrate,” said CLI president Chuck Donovan. “The Hyde Amendment is popular not just with pro-lifers, but with a majority of Americans — people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs who all agree that forcing taxpayers to fund abortion is wrong.”

There have been over 55 million abortions in America since 1973, meaning that Hyde has prevented 3.5 percent of domestic abortions since Roe v. Wade.

Pro-life advocates are praising the Amendment for its valuable work. "Over two million preborn children have been protected from abortion thanks to the Hyde Amendment. These Americans…were given a chance at life instead of a government-subsidized death,” said Live Action’s Lila Rose in a statement.

“A majority of Americans oppose the use of their taxes to fund abortion,” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. The Chair of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s Pro-Life Coalition, Dannenfelser noted that the Amendment has had bipartisan support for the entirety of its existence – until now, as Democrats aim to repeal the measure and force taxpayers to fund abortions for any reason until the day of birth.

From my piece this morning:

The Democratic Party’s platform promises to repeal of the Amendment because it “impede[s] a woman’s access to abortion,” as does party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Vice-Presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has said he will subordinate his support for Hyde to Clinton’s agenda against it if their ticket wins in November.

Conversely, Trump – whose positions on various abortion-related policies have shifted towards pro-life over the course of his campaign – has promised to make the Amendment permanent law (as opposed to its current status as a measure that must be approved by Congress each year).

The Hyde Amendment isn’t perfect. It allows funding for abortions if pregnancies are the result of rape or incest, and if a mother’s life is in danger. Perhaps most importantly, Planned Parenthood is able to access other federal funding streams for abortions, such as abortifacients via Title X funding. And even the Government Accountability Office wasn’t able to entirely distinguish between state and federal funding in a 2015 analysis.

But it has been an important tool for life, as New’s analysis makes clear. The challenge now is to take Americans’ general support for pro-life regulations and laws and turn them into actual legislative, judicial, and cultural accomplishments.