Morgan Griffith: The importance of the Hyde Amendment
It is no secret that Americans frequently disagree with each other on many issues, important or trivial. Freedom of conscience is a foundational right in this country. That freedom means more than simply thinking what you want. It means you should not be forced to act in violation of your conscience so long as you are not harming others.
When it comes to abortion, again, it is no surprise to find disagreement on the issue. Millions of Americans like me hold pro-life views, often formed out of their religious convictions, but millions of others do not support pro-life policies. That is why I support H.R. 18, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
Three years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, then-Congressman Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) introduced an amendment to the Department of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare Appropriations Act of 1977 restricting public funding of abortions. This amendment since became a part of annual appropriations legislation.
Known as the Hyde Amendment, it has saved 2.5 million lives from abortion and allowed pro-life Americans not to have their tax dollars used to violate their belief in the sanctity of life
For much of its 45-year history, the Hyde Amendment has not been controversial even though abortion has remained a hot topic. Even President Biden was a longtime supporter of the Hyde Amendment as a U.S. senator. Congress controlled by both parties have passed appropriations bills containing Hyde provisions, and presidents from both parties have signed these bills into law.
That is because of its relation to our First Amendment freedoms.
Our Founding Fathers may not have laid guidelines for the handling of taxpayer funded abortions, but they did explicitly outline in the First Amendment of our Constitution that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Eradicating the Hyde Amendment would force American taxpayers to fund abortion, even if it goes entirely against their personal religious convictions.
But now radicals are trying to jeopardize this freedom.
Democrats who control the appropriations process want to strip the Hyde Amendment from bills that fund the Federal Government. Now in the Oval Office, Joe Biden has changed his tune on the issue and opposes the provision he once upheld.
Unfortunately, events at the state level in Virginia preview where Democrats in Washington want to go. Thanks to unified Democrat control in Richmond, taxpayer-supported health insurance exchanges in Virginia can now offer abortion coverage. This change violates the same principles protected by the Hyde Amendment and, I believe, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
President Biden’s administration and this Democrat Congress have already been the most pro-abortion in history. Their advocacy now endangers not just the right to life of millions but the freedom of conscience of millions more. We must stand up to the radical agenda and ensure the Hyde Amendment is indefinitely protected.
That is why my Republican colleagues and I are fighting for H.R. 18, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This bill will make the Hyde Amendment permanent and uphold protections for life, conscience, and freedom of religious beliefs.
House Democrats had an opportunity to consider H.R. 18, but they declined to bring it up for consideration. This snubbing of American taxpayers disrespects personal religious beliefs.
Therefore, between now and the August recess, pro-life legislators are pushing for unanimous consent on the House floor for consideration of H.R. 18. I did so on June 30, just one of several Republicans urging the House to do so on that day alone.
As a pro-life supporter, I am opposed to using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. I do not believe American citizens should be forced to finance a procedure that may go against their religious convictions. When asked, nearly 60% of Americans agreed that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund abortion, and it is our job to uphold this. I believe I have an obligation to protect innocent human life and be a strong advocate for the unborn. H.R. 18 is a bill that will do just that.
I hope my colleagues can put aside their radical agenda and join the traditionally bipartisan effort to protect the right to religious freedom.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Morgan Griffith represents the Ninth District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.