Should the Hyde Amendment be repealed?
- Abortion became a constitutional right for women across all 50 states following the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. Since then, there have been roughly 60 million abortions in the US.
- The 1976 Hyde Amendment is named after Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL) and was a legislative amendment aimed at preventing taxpayer federal funds from paying for abortions, such as through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
- Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 annual financial report revealed the organization still received $543.7-564.8 million in fungible federal grants and reimbursements. They additionally received $100 million in private donations.
- Planned Parenthood donates frequently to Democrat campaigns and federal candidates. Between 2019-2020, $746,595 went to Democrats; $0 to Republicans.
- Gallup polling records how the country has remained narrowly divided on the subject with 48% identifying as pro-choice and 46% as pro-life in 2020.
- On May 28, 2021, the Biden administration made headlines when releasing a budget proposal that dropped the Hyde Amendment, allowing for public funding of abortions.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade established a robust right to bodily autonomy and privacy under the 14th Amendment, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy without undue restrictions. By preventing women on federal health programs from using those funds to pay for most abortion services, the government is, in many cases, preventing those women from using the same rights their wealthier counterparts enjoy.
This can have long-term effects on the financial situation of women on Medicaid. Studies have shown access to reproductive health services and control over when to have children is intimately tied to economic advancement. Poor women who cannot access those full range of services may instead be locked into generational poverty. This sort of restrictive control in Medicaid also has no counterpart for healthcare only aimed at men, such as prostate exams. As that creates an unequal distribution between men and women, it certainly violates the spirit of the equal protection rights established by Roe v. Wade in the first place.
Finally, the Hyde Amendment arose due to religiously based objections to paying for other people's abortion services via tax dollars. However, we don't allow this in other circumstances; if I'm a Quaker with a religious objection to warfare, I can neither earmark my taxes as exempt from paying for it nor force the government to no longer fund the Department of Defense. Demanding women who otherwise have a right to government-sponsored healthcare to pay out of pocket for abortions or go without access ends up privileging someone else's religious beliefs above others, which should rightly be viewed as a 1st Amendment violation and a good reason to repeal Hyde.
The government has no money of its own. Any money in the government's possession is taxpayer money. The government is responsible to the people for the spending of that money. As per public polling published in the Washington Post and other news outlets, many Americans are against abortion, except for in limited circumstances. Many, rightfully, believe abortion to be the murder of a child. It's offensive and flat-out wrong to force them to pay for those murders.
Some say restricting the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except for in the specific situations that the Hyde Amendment allows, unfairly restricts access of women in the lower economic classes from access to abortions. Some states get around that by using funds from other sources. However, abortion supporters concerned about poor women's access to abortion are perfectly free to rectify the matter by paying for their abortions themselves, without forcing their fellow citizens to pay for the murder of innocents.
Outside of rape, incest, or sexual abuse, sex isn't like a disease or some other misfortune; people choose to engage in it. While a person may decide that murdering a child in the womb is easier than dealing with the consequences of their own behavior in more difficult ways—such as having the baby and allowing the infant to be adopted—it is unacceptable to force other people to pay for that murder.
Do babies have any human rights? Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for the violation of a vulnerable, powerless person's most fundamental human right—the right to life. It is an inalienable right, mentioned explicitly in our founding documents. Our constitution makes no mention of abortion or a governmental responsibility to subsidize them.