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Top U.S. Bishop: We Must Appeal To Protect Hyde Amendment

U.S. bishops are encouraging Catholics to sign a petition to oppose the Hyde Amendment’s repeal. The Hyde Amendment would prevent federal funding for abortion as a permanent part of the law. In this photo from Oct. 1, 2019, pro-life leaders unfurl a petition in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, with more than 250,000 signatures calling for the court to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

WINDSOR TERRACE — Strongly denouncing “an effort to define abortion as health care,” a top U.S. bishop wants Catholics to urge their elected officials to save the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion. 

“[Abortion is] not health care. Health care doesn’t destroy life. Health care doesn’t harm the child and the woman,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told Currents News.

The USCCB is leading a petition to protect the 45-year-old amendment amid growing opposition.

A bill pending in Congress would end the Hyde Amendment and related abortion restrictions. It is called the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or the EACH Act.

Also, a debate is expected over the amendment as Congress considers the 2022 federal budget unveiled May 28 by President Joe Biden. During last year’s presidential campaign, Biden said he reversed his decades-long support of the amendment. 

Archbishop Naumann said he traced Biden’s Hyde Amendment opposition back to the Obama Administration’s efforts to craft the Affordable Care Act. Biden, a former U.S. Senator from Delaware, was Obama’s vice president.

“Once you define [abortion] as health care, they’re not talking about choices anymore,” Archbishop Naumann said. “They’re talking about imposing abortion on everyone. Everyone has to cooperate if it’s true health care.”

Since 1976, the amendment banned the use of federal Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or the endangerment of a woman’s life. Each annual budget cycle, the Hyde Amendment is renewed in appropriations bills for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, is pictured in a screenshot delivering the opening prayer during the virtual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 29, 2021. (Photo: CNS screenshot/March for Life)

Biden, a Catholic, has said he personally opposes abortion but refuses to impose his beliefs on others based on religion.

Archbishop Naumann said in the Currents News interview that Biden dropped his Hyde Amendment backing “to gain support within his own party” in the 2020 election.

Red flags unfurled in the pro-life community on March 11 when Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act — without Hyde Act provisions. Pro-life advocates saw that as proof the president is willing to ax the amendment.

“So, our only defense is to get our people in Congress and the Senate — (who) will be very critical in this — to try to stop it,” the archbishop told news anchor Christine Persichette.

People who believe in the right to choose an abortion complain the procedure is more expensive without federal funding. 

Consequently, they claim, the amendment fosters racism because it makes abortion unaffordable in minority communities. Conversely, people who oppose abortion support the amendment because they do not want their tax dollars used for the procedure.

But Archbishop Naumann added that without the Hyde Amendment, states that receive federal funds, but choose not to fund abortion, may be coerced into doing so.

“They’re going to have to cooperate in this as well,” he said. “So that’s a very, very sweeping effort.”

Still, he noted, polling data shows most Americans don’t support U.S. tax revenues paying for abortion in the U.S. or abroad.

A recent Marist Poll found that most Americans, about 76%, favor abortion restrictions, while 58% specifically oppose using tax dollars for abortions.

Also, among “pro-choice” respondents, 64% said they oppose using U.S. tax dollars to fund abortions in other countries. The poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, surveyed 1,173 adults January 11-13 via random phone calls.

“Our polling has shown consistently over the past decade that policies that promote abortion on demand, paid for by taxpayers, are divisive and out of step with American public opinion,” said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Meanwhile, USCCB data shows the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions prevented the aborting of 2.4 million babies since 1976.

Archbishop Naumann warned that the amendment’s demise would result in a like number of abortions.

“They’ll go up in ethnic communities where, for instance, African American children are aborted at a much higher percentage than their percentage in the population,” he said. “I think the same will happen with Hispanics.”

People can find the petition and sign it at

“If they do that, then they’ll also be sent action alerts on how they can reach out to their individual Congressman or woman,” Archbishop Naumann said. “That’s what’s really important. The people of Congress need to hear about this.”