Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News
As the Hyde Amendment turns 40 years old this week, a new report claims that it may have saved two million lives from abortion since it went into effect.
“Two million lives saved is reason to celebrate,” Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute which produced the report, stated.
“The Hyde Amendment is popular not just with pro-lifers, but with a majority of Americans – people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs who all agree that forcing taxpayers to fund abortion is wrong.”
However, he added, the policy “is under unprecedented assault as its 40th anniversary approaches” and pro-lifers must defend it to see that it continues to save lives.
The Hyde Amendment, named after Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) who sponsored it, passed Congress in 1976 several years after the Supreme Court ruled that a woman had a legal right to an abortion. The policy prohibited taxpayer dollars – namely through federal programs for low-income women like Medicaid – from subsidizing abortions.
Current exceptions to the prohibition are for abortions performed in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.
“As a rider, it is not a permanent law, but it has been passed with bipartisan support in every federal funding bill since 1976,” Genevieve Plaster of the Charlotte Lozier Institute noted in her written testimony to Congress on Sept. 23.
To see how many abortions the policy has prevented, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, compiled over 20 different studies on how limiting abortion subsidies affects the overall number of abortions.
The conclusion they came to was that, because of Hyde’s prohibition on Medicaid reimbursements of elective abortions, over two million pregnancies are estimated to have instead been carried to term since 1976, and over 60,000 a year. One in nine pregnancies of women on Medicaid would have ended in abortions if not for Hyde, the report claimed.
However, the policy has been under fire recently as the Democratic Party platform called for its repeal over the summer. The party’s presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has supported its repeal, but vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine stated publicly that he favored the policy, after the Clinton campaign had said he opposed it. A Clinton spokesperson said that he still supported the candidate’s “agenda” which included repealing the amendment.
GOP nominee Donald Trump has spoken out in favor of the Hyde Amendment.
According to a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, Americans were not in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion including 63 percent of women and even 44 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of those identifying as “pro-choice.”
“The Hyde Amendment and therefore lives are at stake this election. It is so important that Catholic voters understand where the two tickets stand on this issue,” Mallory Quigley, communications director of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, stated on Thursday. The group’s president Marjorie Dannenfelser also heads Trump’s newly-created pro-life coalition.
How has Hyde saved lives? For instance, data from around the time the policy went into effect showed that “the birthrate among women on Medicaid increased by an average of about 13 percent,” the report stated.
A Guttmacher Institute review of 22 studies found that 19 of the studies had “statistically significant evidence that abortion rates fell after Medicaid funding was reduced,” the report said, noting that in the studies “18-37 percent of pregnancies that would have ended in Medicaid funded abortions were carried to term when funding was no longer available.”
In another case in North Carolina, where from 1980 to 1995 the state subsidized abortions through a special fund, the report cited findings that “whenever funds were depleted,” it was then that “there were statistically significant decreases in the abortion rate, and months later, statistically significant increases in the birthrate.”
According to three studies cited in the Guttmacher review, over the course of two decades in certain states “(state) Medicaid funding limits reduce state abortion rates anywhere from 1.4 to 3.4 abortions per thousand women of childbearing age.”
Using this methodology for every state for every year from 1976 to 2016 the Hyde Amendment is predicted to routinely save over 60,000 lives a year and thus cumulatively has saved 2.13 million lives since 1976.
On the 40th anniversary of the amendment, a “Hello Hyde” campaign also seeks to add faces to the effect of the legislation and personalize it. HelloHyde.org tells the stories of those whose mothers “received prenatal/birth care through Medicaid,” with the statement of “Medicaid should cover birth, not death.”