When today’s Democratic leaders say they’ll temporarily leave the Hyde Amendment - a provision which prevents federal funding for most abortions – intact in the new spending bill, sadly it’s not because some have estimated 2.13 million American lives have been saved by it. They are just biding their time until they can impose their extreme taxpayer-funded abortion ideology on all Americans.
And they want to avoid a nasty policy fight leading up to the election in November. This modest pause of Democrats’ assault on the widely accepted, popular pro-life policy outraged abortion-giant Planned Parenthood and the organization promptly tweeted that the Hyde Amendment “cannot and should not be the law of the land.” But even the author of the bill, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd District), admitted that this was only a short reprieve and after the election she will continue to “fight to remove the Hyde Amendment.”
It should also be noted that, despite leaving Hyde intact temporarily, Democrats in the House are stealthily trying to jettison just about every other pro-life initiative. Legislative protections excluding abortion and abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds both nationally and internationally have been dropped from the Democrats’ draft bill – provisions which have been included for most of the last three decades. President Trump’s recent actions protecting the conscience rights of healthcare providers as well as his efforts to limit tax dollars going to the abortion industry are also eliminated in the bill.
Democrats are also trying to restore hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to international bodies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has a history of supporting forced abortions, and the World Health Organization (WHO), which has been using the pandemic to promote abortion.
The Democratic Party wasn’t always so extreme when it came to abortion. Three years after the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, liberal Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, “abortion is morally wrong. It is not a legitimate or acceptable response to any problem of society. And if our country wishes to remain true to its basic moral strength, then unwanted as well as wanted children must be unfailingly protected.” Around the same time a young Joe Biden said that he felt Roe v. Wade went too far: “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
In fact, the parties took opposite sides for the first time on the issue of abortion in 1980 when Republican pro-life nominee Ronald Reagan ran for president. And thanks to Phyllis Schlafly, the first ever pro-life plank was added to the Republican platform. Meanwhile, the Democrats' 1980 platform endorsed abortion. Under the term “Reproductive Rights,” the document stated that “a woman has a right to choose whether and when to have a child” and announced “that it is undesirable to overturn” Roe v. Wade. Under “Privacy,” the platform called abortion “a fundamental human right,” and wrote that any funding for “reproductive” services must not exclude funding for abortion.
Since then the Democratic Party has gone further and further left. When Joe Biden first ran for president in 1988, he had to change his position on life, as did Al Gore and Jesse Jackson, to get any support among the Democratic Party elites. That pro-abortion litmus test is now applied to any Democratic candidate for federal office. In this election cycle we even saw longtime Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL 3rd District) lose his primary after the Democratic Party pulled its support over his pro-life views – a move which leaves no more outspoken pro-life Democrats in Congress. This year we also witnessed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden again succumb to political pressure to oppose the – until very recently, popularly bipartisan - lifesaving Hyde Amendment.
The contrast between the Democratic Party and Democratic Party presidential nominee this cycle and the American public when it comes to abortion is stark. 2020 polling from Marist shows that the Democratic Party’s sprint left on abortion puts them at odds with most Americans, including many of those within their own party. The poll showed 65% of Americans (and the same percentage of registered voters) “are more likely to vote for” candidates who would limit abortion to - at most - the first three months of pregnancy. This includes 44% of Democrats. An overwhelming majority (75%) oppose taxpayer funding of abortion abroad, and 60% oppose domestic taxpayer funding of abortion. Democrats are unwise to force their extreme agenda on the public when a quarter of Americans consider abortion a key voting issue.
It looks as though until true pro-lifers, like Louisiana State Senator Katrina Jackson, rise up to reclaim their party, Democrats will continue on their pro-death spiral.
Tom McClusky is the President of March for Life Action, a pro-life organization.