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House members urge ban on abortion funding in budget proposals

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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 said in a July 1 letter to President Joe Biden.

In his May 28 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.

"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 budget also would repeal the Dornan Amendment, which states no congressionally appropriated funds may pay for abortion in the District of Columbia.

"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.

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."

The Biden letter was spearheaded by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who is chairman of the Republican Study Committee, along with Reps. Andy Harris, R-Md., Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., and Kat Cammack, R-Fla., who also are Pro-Life Caucus co-chairs.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021