By Michael Haynes
House Democrats and their witnesses at an Appropriations Committee hearing today characterized the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from funding abortions, as “clearly racist.”
The Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding of abortions except “to save the life of the woman,” or in the case of incest or rape. It was passed in 1976 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 1980 ruling. The Hyde Amendment, which is a budget provision, has been passed every single year, no matter the party of the president or the party in control of Congress.
Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who were pro-abortion presidents, signed appropriations bills that included the Hyde Amendment.
Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) of the House Committee on Appropriations called for the Hyde Amendment to be removed completely, saying, “It deserves to be in the dustbin of history, with other policies that were designed to limit the rights of the powerless.”
Chairing the hearing, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) said in her opening remarks that the Hyde Amendment is discriminatory, referring particularly to an alleged racist connection. DeLauro said, “More than half (58%) of the women affected by the Hyde Amendment are women of color — almost one-third (31%) are Black, 27 percent Latina, nearly one-fifth (19 percent) Asian Americans and Pacific Islander women, as well as indigenous women also covered by Medicaid.”
She expressed her concern that without easier access to abortion, “women are dropping out of the work force … staying at home and they are not going back to work.”
“The Hyde Amendment has failed women of color and communities of color, to be able to access the healthcare and the reproductive healthcare that they need.” DeLauro concluded.
Her words were supported by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who also called the Hyde Amendment “discriminatory” against women of low income and women of color.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) spoke in defense of the act promising his “unwavering support for the Hyde Amendment.” The amendment is estimated to have saved “the lives of 2 million people since it was first adopted in 1976 — most of them people of color,” Cole added. He also noted how “the majority of the American people, including the majority of low-income women, also support the Hyde Amendment.”
“Even most people who identify themselves as pro-choice on abortion issues, don’t want their tax payer dollars to be used to pay for someone else’s abortion.”
Congressman John R. Moolenaar (R-MI) even reminded the hearing that “an innocent unborn child, that is created in the image of God, is not a disease.” “The science,” he added, indicates more and more “the importance of recognizing the value of these innocent human lives.”
Dr. Herminia Palacio, a witness at the hearing and president and CEO of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, which for decades was directly connected to abortion giant Planned Parenthood, argued that the Hyde Amendment “intentionally and unjustly” affected “Black and Brown people,” as well as “people with low incomes.”
Palacio claimed the amendment was “clearly racist” in its impact.
Pro-lifers have pointed out for years that the children who are aborted are disproportionately members of minorities. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of abortion among African-American women is far higher than among white American women. While black women make up only six percent of the U.S. population, they account for 35 percent of abortions reported.
The only pro-life witness, out of the four at the hearing, was Christina Maria Bennett, communications director at the Family Institute of Connecticut, who defended the Hyde Amendment from the allegations of “systemic racism” leveled against it.
“One in every nine people born to a mother on Medicaid is here today because of the Hyde Amendment,” she said.
Bennett added that it has had “44 years of bipartisan support,” noting how a January 2020 poll found that “60% of American voters oppose tax-payer funding of abortion.”
While her fellow witnesses attacked the Hyde Amendment for being racist, Bennett strongly defended it: “It’s not racist to preserve black lives. Hyde protects women from an industry that is actually rooted in racism, with a documented history of eugenics philosophy, population control, and the unlawful targeting of the black community.”
“Free abortion is not in the best interest of our community,” stated Bennett, herself a woman of color.
Pro-family group Family Research Council issued a statement on the hearing, noting that the Democrats’ call to abolish Hyde meant that it “is vital to pass federal legislation like the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act protecting taxpayers from subsidizing abortion. Abortion is not healthcare and should not be funded as such.”
Pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List expressed its support for Bennett in the hearing, stating, “House Democrats, emboldened by a potential Biden administration, are once again pushing to force hardworking taxpayers to fund abortion on demand. Their extremism not only harms women and families, destroys countless innocent unborn children, and decimates the minority communities they claim to support, but it is also deeply unpopular even among rank-and-file Democrats. We are proud to stand with Christina Bennett, whose powerful story of being scheduled for abortion and spared at the last minute utterly contradicts the abortion lobby narrative.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely next president, already announced his intention to repeal the Hyde Amendment.