Washington D.C., USA, (CNA) – President Joe Biden on Friday did not include a 45 year-old pro-life policy in his final budget request to Congress for the 2022 fiscal year, thus allowing for funding of abortions.
The Hyde Amendment, enacted into law since 1976, bars federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid. It is not permanent law, and is attached as a rider to budget bills specifying that the health care funding therein cannot be used for elective abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake.
Biden has pledged to repeal the policy, and did not include it in his final budget request released on Friday.
The chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee on Friday decried taxpayer-funded abortion as a “failure” that will “subsidize the deaths of unborn children.”
“Taxpayer-funded abortion represents a failure to serve women in their maternity by funding despair and death instead of hope and life,” stated Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee.
“These resources would be far better spent supporting women in crisis pregnancies and struggling new mothers so that no woman ever feels economic pressure to have an abortion,” he said.
While noting “aspects to President Biden’s budget proposal that will assist vulnerable people,” Archbishop Naumann added that “Congress must reject the Administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children.”
“For more than four decades, the Hyde family of pro-life policies has kept American taxpayers out of the abortion business,” stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, on Friday.
“The Biden budget throws that longstanding, bipartisan consensus out the window to fulfill a campaign promise to the radical abortion lobby,” she said.
“Joe Biden once said ‘don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’ Sadly, this administration does not value human life nor does it represent the wishes of mainstream America on such a critical issue,” stated Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, on Friday.
Pro-abortion groups, which have for years pushed for tax dollars to subsidize abortions under Medicaid, stated their praise for the proposed budget.
“Budgets are a statement of values. President Biden’s budget proposes to end the harmful Hyde amendment — making clear that federal law should support everyone’s ability to access health care, including safe, legal abortion, in this country,” Planned Parenthood Action stated on Twitter.
“We love to see #AbortionJustice in action,” stated the group All Above All, which has advocated for taxpayer-funded abortion.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), head of the Senate pro-life caucus, stated on Friday that the budget request includes “billions of taxpayer dollars for Planned Parenthood.”
As part of the process of funding the federal government, Congress will next take up individual appropriations bills based off Biden’s budget request; pro-life groups have warned that funding of abortions and pro-abortion groups could significantly increase if the Hyde Amendment is not adopted as part of funding bills.
While Democrats control the House, they only have a tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 Senate through Vice President Kamala Harris.
Dannenfelser said recently that she is “confident” in Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), seen as a key swing vote, to oppose budget bills that fund abortions.
A budget could fund abortion providers in other ways without violating the Hyde Amendment. Biden has promised to increase funding for the Title X family planning program, for instance, while his administration is also working to repeal restrictions on funding of pro-abortion groups under the program. While Title X funds cannot pay directly for abortions, a Biden administration rule could enable funding of contraceptive services at abortion clinics – a move that pro-life groups warn would free up other resources at the clinics for abortions.
“The task is now up to Congress,” stated Planned Parenthood Action on Friday, adding that Congress should also repeal the “Weldon, & Helms Amendments” and “[p]ermanently repeal the global gag rule.”
The Helms Amendment, enacted as an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, forbids direct funding of abortions in U.S. foreign assistance. The “global gag rule,” as abortion advocates call it, is an executive action that restricts U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that promote or perform abortions as a method of family planning. It is also known as the Mexico City Policy, and President Biden repealed this rule in January.
Biden formerly supported the Hyde Amendment as a U.S. senator, even writing a constituent in 1994 stating his support for the policy. However, as a presidential candidate in 2019, he reversed his support for Hyde while under pressure from pro-abortion groups. He pledged to repeal the policy when campaigning for president in 2020.
Biden is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history. The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Jose Gomez, noted the problem of Biden’s support for legal abortion in a statement upon Biden’s inauguration as president in January.
Noting that Biden “has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender,” Archbishop Gomez stated his wish that Biden would abandon such support and pursue the common good.
“Rather than impose further expansions of abortion and contraception, as he has promised, I am hopeful that the new President and his administration will work with the Church and others of good will,” Gomez stated.
This article was updated May 28 with comments from Archbishop Naumann.