House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other Democrat leaders have chosen to temporarily keep the Hyde Amendment — which prevents taxpayer money from directly funding abortions — while they make plans to abolish the longstanding provision if they win the Senate and White House in November.
The Democrat Party’s base has moved decidedly leftward on the issue of abortion, demanding the elimination of the popular provision, which has been routinely attached to spending bills for decades.
The decision to avoid another battle over an abortion issue so close to Election Day has created tension between establishment Democrat leaders, seeking to hold onto political power, and their increasingly radical constituents.
Traditionally, the Hyde Amendment has enjoyed bipartisan support.
“Outside the beltway, taxpayer funded abortion is rejected by most voters of both parties, which is why the Hyde Amendment that limits spending to the hard cases perseveres,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, explained to Breitbart News. “We know that lives have been saved because of Hyde, which is why we defend women, preborn children, and taxpayers one bill at a time. The Hyde Amendment represents true common ground for most people making the Democrats’ assaults on this protection a mistake every time they try it.”
In June 2019, William Saletan also wrote at Slate that polls on abortion and the Hyde Amendment “debunk” what many on the left believe:
[I]t’s not true that opposition to the Hyde Amendment has become broadly popular or a consensus position among Democrats. Surveys taken in the past three years debunk much of what the left believes, not just about public support for government-funded abortions but also about how attitudes on that issue intersect with gender, class, and reproductive freedom.
According to a Marist poll released in January, 60 percent of Americans “oppose” or “strongly oppose” using taxpayer dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion, including 37 percent of those identifying as “pro-choice,” 35 percent of Democrats, and 55 percent of independents.
Democrat leaders in Congress, however, are attempting to manage a delicate situation involving major donors from the abortion industry and a 2020 nominee who has flip-flopped on his support for the Hyde Amendment.
Biden and his campaign often avoid use of the word “abortion,” preferring, instead, the euphemisms of “health care” and “choice.”
In July 2019, for example, Biden, after reversing course on the Hyde Amendment several times, later revealed his health plan would enshrine Roe v. Wade into the Constitution and force taxpayers to fund abortion.
The Biden campaign said his health plan would build on the “progress” of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate that offers “free preventive care including contraception,” by “repealing the Hyde Amendment because health care is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income.”
On Monday, Biden released a statement on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie, that struck down a Louisiana health and safety law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Biden wrote at Medium, substituting the word “choice” for “abortion”:
Women’s health care rights have been under attack as states across the country have passed extreme laws restricting women’s constitutional right to choice under any circumstance. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that states cannot put in place laws that unduly burden a women’s right to make her own health care decisions with her doctor.
But let’s be clear: Republicans in state legislatures will stop at nothing to get rid of Roe — and we have to be just as strong in our defense of it. They are trying to get these laws appealed to the Supreme Court in the hope that Trump’s justices will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s wrong. It’s pernicious. And, we have to stop it. As President, I will codify Roe v. Wade and my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose.
However, as Politico reported Thursday, Pelosi and other leaders would prefer not to gamble with the Hyde Amendment at the present time:
Democratic leaders ultimately decided to keep the language to avoid a brutal fight they were unlikely to win with a GOP-led Senate, according to multiple aides and lawmakers. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats ultimately agreed it wasn’t the right time to make the push, with the party potentially just one election away from controlling the House, Senate and White House and able to enact more sweeping policy changes.
Still, the party’s base is not happy about acquiescence to the pro-life Trump administration, even if Democrat leaders believe it is temporary.
“Abortion access is a right,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). “That means it should not be available just to those who can afford it. House Democrats have done more than ever before to protect the rights of all women, and I believe that should include the ultimate repeal of the Hyde Amendment.”
In June 2019, national pro-life leaders reminded Biden his most recent statement at the time in favor of scrapping the Hyde Amendment would be a “fatal move” politically, based on what occurred in 2016.
At that time, failed Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton accepted the endorsement of abortion giant Planned Parenthood and called for an end to the Hyde Amendment. Clinton claimed the longstanding provision was “making it harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights” to abortion.