To Protect Taxpayers, The Hyde Amendment Must Be Permanent

Senator James Lankford
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Posted: Sep 30, 2016 12:01 AM
To Protect Taxpayers, The Hyde Amendment Must Be Permanent

In our Declaration of Independence, the Founders declared that everyone is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including and especially life. Science has revealed and affirmed the notion that an unborn child is human life with unique DNA. For more and more Americans, this fact of life is becoming more clear with each new scientific discovery.

I understand the issue of abortion is still controversial in America. But the issue of whether taxpayers should pay for it, even if they’re opposed to it, is not controversial.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of an important policy that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion – the Hyde Amendment. This is an annual appropriations rider that does not allow direct taxpayer dollars to fund abortion coverage through government programs.

Former Congressman Henry Hyde, from Illinois, offered this amendment first in 1976. In 1980 the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde amendment in a 5-4 decision, recognizing that “abortion is inherently different than other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.”

Last summer’s revelations about Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting operation opened the eyes of many Americans to the inhuman treatment of unborn children, which brought the taxpayer payment of abortion again to the national conversation. This is a sensitive topic for many. An abortion decision is an agonizing one for many who find themselves facing the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. But it is common-sense that we shouldn’t force taxpayers to assist in the harvesting of human organs or pay for the purposeful termination of a potential life.

Not only has this long-standing policy traditionally had bipartisan support, it is supported by a majority of Americans. A poll from this summer found that the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even among those who identify as pro-choice. About 51 percent of the respondents of a Knights of Columbus-Marist poll identified themselves as pro-choice, however, 62 percent said they oppose taxpayer funding for abortion.

But here’s the problem – the Hyde Amendment is not permanent. It is currently a policy that must be consistently renewed in annual appropriations bills. This uncertainty has opened the door to an emboldened pro-abortion group of advocates and politicians who have increased their calls for an end to the Hyde Amendment. They demand government-funded abortion at the taxpayers’ expense.

It is past time for the Hyde Amendment to be made permanent and government-wide. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act does this. It has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Roger Wicker, of Mississippi, and in the House by Congressman Chris Smith, of New Jersey. Thankfully, the House passed it with bipartisan support in January of last year. The Senate should immediately take up this bill without delay. It should be settled law that taxpayers should not be forced to fund an abortion.