House panel rejects Hyde amendment backed by SBC

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WASHINGTON (BP) – The Congressional effort to continue to ban public funds from paying for abortions suffered multiple setbacks on Thursday, July 15.

The House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee rejected pro-life amendments to two spending bills for fiscal year 2022. The committee rejected an attempt to restore the 45-year-old Hyde Amendment, which saved the lives of approximately 2.5 million unborn children. He also rejected an amendment to reinstate the ban on funding abortions for inmates.

The rejection of the Hyde Amendment came a month after messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting approved a resolution denouncing any attempt to overturn the measure. First passed in 1976, the amendment prohibited federal funds for Medicaid and other programs from paying for abortions.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has expressed dismay at the committee’s actions.

“It is inexcusable that in the same week one chamber of Congress moves closer to the legitimate fight against the Uyghur genocide in China, the other chamber is also taking action to use taxpayer funding for abortion,” said Chelsea Sobolik, ERLC policy director. . “It’s not just politically inconsistent; it is morally inconsistent.

The Hyde Amendment and the other pro-life “riders” should be reinstated immediately, Sobolik told Baptist Press in written comments. “We cannot advance the cause of human dignity if we do not protect the most vulnerable among us. “

The Senate on July 14 approved an import ban on products made by forced labor in western China in an effort to combat the Chinese government’s genocidal treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities .

The Hyde Amendment and similar bans in other federal programs must be approved annually as “jumpers” in spending bills.

The SBC resolution, which garnered almost unanimous approval, condemned any attempt to overturn the Hyde Amendment as “morally odious, a violation of biblical ethics, contrary to natural law and a moral stain on our nation.” He called for the preservation of Hyde and all other pro-life amendments “to protect life and prevent taxpayers from being complicit in the moral evil of abortion.”

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma sought to reinstate the Hyde Amendment, along with a measure protecting the conscience of pro-life medical workers, during the Appropriations Committee review of the spending bill for the Ministries of Labor, Health and Social Services, and Education.

The committee voted 32-27 against Cole’s amendment, with Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas being the only Democrat to join Republicans in supporting the proposal. The panel approved the comprehensive spending bill by a 33-25 vote.

The rejected conscience measure, known as the Weldon Amendment, has since 2004 banned federal funds for government programs that discriminate against people or health care institutions that oppose abortion.

The Appropriations Committee refused to reinstate the ban on the use of Justice Department funds for inmate abortions during its deliberations on the Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill. The committee approved the comprehensive bill by 33-26.

Carol Tobias, chair of the National Right to Life Committee, called the rejection of the Hyde Amendment “a campaign by pro-abortion Democrats to ensure abortion is available on demand, for whatever reason, at all moment, and paid with taxpayer money. “

Abortion rights advocates applauded the actions of the committee. Adrienne Kimmel, interim president of NARAL Pro-choice America, described the votes as “a critical step to ensure that the discriminatory Hyde Amendment becomes a shameful relic of the past.”

The bills – minus the pro-life “horsemen” – have yet to get passage of the fully Democratic-controlled House. If passed in this chamber, spending bills without the “cavaliers” should face a challenge in the Senate, which is split evenly between the two political parties.

President Biden released a $ 6 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2022 in May that excluded the Hyde Amendment and other abortion funding bans from federal programs. Biden supported the Hyde Amendment during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate, but reversed his position in 2019 as he contested the Democratic presidential nomination.

While Hyde has long been backed by a significant percentage of pro-choice lawyers, Democratic opposition to the amendment has grown in recent years.

The ban has saved the lives of more than 2.4 million unborn children since its inception, according to a July 2020 estimate by Michael New, senior researcher and associate researcher at the Charlotte Lozier Pro-Life Institute.

The ERLC has called for the enactment of a permanent government-wide ban on abortion funding and has included the protection of pro-life “runners” in spending legislation as one of its priorities in its 2021 public policy program.

Republicans have sought to impose a complete ban on abortion funding in the House for a vote in June. The procedural move failed in a roll call 218-209.


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