Leaked congressional letter urges Republicans to pledge support for federal abortion funding ban
Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF
Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks is calling on Republicans to pledge their support for a ban on federal abortion funding, a leaked congressional letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation shows.
In a letter addressed to both Democratic and Republican leaders, Banks and the Republican Study Committee expressed “unified opposition” to Democratic efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
“As part of their pro-abortion crusade, Democrats have taken direct aim at these long-standing, bipartisan protections that generally prevent the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to support abortion procedures,” the letter said. “Repealing these pro-life provisions would destroy nearly half a century of bipartisan consensus.”
The letter, which will be circulated among Congress members for signatures throughout December before it is released in January, emphasized that Congress has included Hyde protections in appropriations annually since 1976 and that “no president in American history has ever vetoed an appropriations bill due to its inclusion of the Hyde Amendment.”
“We cannot allow the Hyde Amendment and other important pro-life safeguards to be decimated by Congressional Democrats,” the letter concludes. “Accordingly, we pledge to vote against any government funding bill that eliminates or weakens the Hyde Amendment or other current-law, pro-life appropriations provisions.”
Prominent Democrats such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro have recently expressed renewed opposition to Hyde.
“The Hyde amendment is a discriminatory policy and one that is routinely considered — every year as a legislative rider — but we are in a moment to reckon with the norm,” DeLauro tweeted November 30. “We are moving forward as we discussed and I promised in August.”
The Hyde amendment is a discriminatory policy and one that is routinely considered — every year as a legislative rider — but we are in a moment to reckon with the norm.
We are moving forward as we discussed and I promised in August.
— Rosa DeLauro (@rosadelauro) November 30, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment until as recently as June 2019. During the Democratic presidential primary, now-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders had pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment should they become president.
After backlash from abortion advocates and his fellow presidential candidates, Biden announced on June 6, 2019 that he could “no longer support an amendment” that cuts off abortion funding. The former vice president cited attacks on abortion legislation from GOP lawmakers as a reason for his switch.
Harris attacked Biden for his flip on Hyde during the Democratic presidential debates, pointing out that Biden only changed his stance on Hyde after he began running for president. She called his former stances on abortion “unacceptable.”
“Why did it take you so long to change your position on the Hyde Amendment?” Harris asked Biden. “Why did it take so long until you were running for president to change your position on the Hyde Amendment?”
“Because there was not full, federal funding for all reproductive services prior to this point,” Biden responded.