For the past 45 years, federal policies such as the Hyde Amendment have prevented American taxpayer dollars from paying for elective abortions. These policies have been renewed yearly and signed into law by presidents from both political parties.
Now, for the first time since 1976, it is possible that the Hyde Amendment and related provisions would not be passed by lawmakers in federal budget bills, thereby allowing billions of dollars to pay for abortions across the country. In fact, some pro-abortion groups and elected officials are instead calling for language that would require every federal health program to cover, and every federal health facility to provide, elective abortions.
Catholics have an important responsibility in light of this aggressive push from the pro-abortion lobby and likeminded elected officials: tell Congress that taxpayer dollars should NOT pay for abortion.
The proposed policy to reject the Hyde Amendment after four decades of bipartisan support does not reflect a shift in public opinion. In fact, surveys have continually demonstrated that a strong majority of individuals — including those of different income levels, races, and positions regarding abortion — oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion (Stop Your Taxes from Paying for Abortion, 2021).
The Hyde Amendment, in addition to respecting the consciences of the American people, has also saved nearly 2.5 million babies and mothers in difficult circumstances from the tragedy of abortion. There is never a good time or reason for Congress to turn its back on the Hyde provision in order to fund the abortion industry.
Pro-life citizens across Michigan have shown their ability to impact the public policy process in years past. In 2013, the Michigan Legislature adopted a grassroots-initiated bill that prevented taxpayer funding of abortion in any health plan offered on the statewide health care exchange, which was established as part of the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010. Catholic parishes and others of goodwill played a key role in the bill’s passage, gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures in all 83 counties. The Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) wrote at the time: “Michigan will continue its strong record of protecting taxpayers from financing another person’s elective abortion … Abortion is not health care, and that fact cannot be overstated.”
Once again, the MCC is calling on Michigan Catholics to protect the dignity of the human person and prevent taxpayer funding of abortion.
In the first week of June, the MCC and dioceses across the state will join with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in urging Catholics to sign a petition for federal lawmakers. The petition encourages Congress to pass the Hyde Amendment and other life-affirming provisions, and it states that Congress should “not force Americans to subsidize the taking of innocent life.” By promoting this effort, the Catholic bishops are hopeful that a flurry of pro-life action will take place across the country and in Michigan, telling members of Congress that taxpayers should never fund another person’s elective abortion.
With a large push for action scheduled for the first weekend in June, Catholics and others who support the Hyde Amendment policy are encouraged to contact their member of Congress at www.NoTaxpayerAbortion.com. Sharing this link (and related promotional resources that are available at www.micatholic.org/NoTaxpayerAbortion) with family, friends, and neighbors would also be helpful to the overall success of the effort.
As Catholics call for the continued prohibition of taxpayer-funded abortion, it is also important to reflect upon the importance of supporting mothers and babies in need of assistance. Too many women feel pressured into having an abortion, oftentimes because they do not feel they have adequate support. No mother should have to feel alone in their pregnancy.
In response to the reality of unsupported mothers, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is promoting an initiative called Walking With Moms in Need. The effort seeks to address the circumstances that lead to women choosing abortion, by raising awareness on how to help local pregnant and parenting women in difficult circumstances, by supporting local pregnancy centers and resources for parents, and by creating new resources when necessary.
Signing the No Taxpayer Abortion petition and supporting Walking With Moms in Need demonstrates real commitment to women and children, during pregnancy and beyond. The MCC is grateful to all across the state who have made this commitment possible.
Paul A. Long is president and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.