6 Things to Know About the Hyde Amendment

Over 2 million people.

That’s about the entire population of New Mexico.

That’s also about the entire population of Rhode Island and Delaware combined!

But why does this number matter?

According to a study conducted by Dr. Michael J. New of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, that is the number of lives saved in the United States since 1976 – all because of one small, additional provision, often called a “rider,” that has been added to the federal spending bill each year.

What is this life-saving stipulation?

It’s called the Hyde Amendment. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is it?

The Hyde Amendment is a revision added to the annual appropriations bill each year. Although it has changed its form slightly over the years, it currently prevents taxpayer dollars from being used in federal health insurance programs, particularly Medicaid, to pay for most abortions. Medicaid provides health care to low-income Americans, and it is jointly funded by federal and state tax dollars. Specifically, because of the Hyde Amendment, federal tax dollars cannot be used by Medicaid or other federal programs to fund abortions, except in rare cases (rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother).

2. Who proposed it?

Republican Congressmen Henry Hyde sponsored the amendment in 1976. Hyde once said,

“This is a debate about our understanding of human dignity, what it means to be a member of the human family, even though tiny, powerless and unwanted.”

And guess what – he was from Illinois!

3. When was it passed?

The Hyde Amendment passed for the first time in 1976. Shortly after Roe v. Wade in 1973, Medicaid began to cover the cost of abortions – in all situations. With the passage of the amendment, Medicaid could not use federal dollars for abortions, unless it was deemed “medically necessary” to preserve the life of the mother.

In 1980, the abortion industry challenged the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment in Harris v. McRae. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court upheld the amendment, declaring it constitutional in a 5-4 ruling. However, in 1993 rape and incest exceptions were added to the amendment, and these have still remained.

From 1977 to the present, the Hyde Amendment has remained a “rider” or a provision added to the annual budget and voted upon each year by Congress. It has passed every year, with bipartisan support. [1]

4. What’s the impact, nationwide?

Nationwide, the Hyde Amendment has saved the lives of thousands of low-income children (those who receive care from Medicaid) each year. According to a 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research arm in favor of abortion-on-demand), the

“best studies…found that 18-37 percent of pregnancies that would have ended in Medicaid-funded abortion were carried to term when funding was no longer available.”

Furthermore, the Guttmacher Institute revealed in another report in 2013 that if the Hyde Amendment were repealed, it would lead to an additional 33,000 abortions every year.

As a matter of fact, many of these “Medicaid kids” have spoken out in appreciation for the chance at life which the Hyde Amendment gave them. To see some of these children, check out the link here.

It’s important to note that the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funds from being used to pay for abortions outside cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. However, the states can use their own funds to cover abortions through state programs.

According to a 2012 report by Americans United for Life, 17 states, including Illinois, fund all or most abortions deemed “medically necessary” through state-Medicaid programs. Other states follow the federal requirements or have other stipulations/exceptions.

5. What’s the current situation?

In July of 2015, pro-abortion legislators introduced a bill that would permanently repeal the Hyde Amendment. Fortunately, it died in committee. However, one year later in July of 2016, the Democratic Party adopted a platform demanding the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. The 2020 elections may play a huge role in determining whether or not the Hyde Amendment continues to save the lives of thousands of low-income, American children each year.

6. What can we do?

The fact that we recognize the significance of the Hyde Amendment is important. The amendment is a landmark in the pro-life movement, worth celebrating and worth protecting. That being said, it’s crucial that we inform and educate others who may not be aware of the role which the Hyde Amendment has played. As we move toward the 2020 election, the next legislative cycle, and the years following, we should keep this in mind and strive to protect it. On the day the amendment was first passed, Congressmen Henry Hyde said,

“What today’s decision really means is life for countless unborn children, just as surely as unrestricted abortion means death for them. So the true victors don’t even know about the battle, much less the victory.”

Who are the “true victors” today? 2 million low-income, American children given a chance at life.

[1] http://www.hellohyde.org/the-hyde-amendment-timeline/