Thanks to the vote of a single Democratic senator, a federal law prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion may survive.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) joined with 49 Republican senators on Tuesday to pass an amendment prohibiting federal dollars from being used for abortions, potentially keeping a law on the books that has had bipartisan support since the 1970s. The amendment was added to the Senate’s $3.5 trillion budget resolution.
The law in question is the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision that must be renewed annually and that has been backed by every president since Jimmy Carter. Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both pro-choice presidents, signed budgets that included the Hyde Amendment.
President Biden opposes the Hyde Amendment, as do Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
Manchin joined every Republican present to support the amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). If Manchin had voted no, the amendment would have failed.
Pro-life groups say the Hyde Amendment has saved more than 2 million lives.
“We should all be able to agree – no American should be forced to pay for an abortion through taxpayer dollars,” Lankford said in a news release. “Just because a child is inside the womb does not mean they should be treated any differently by law. My amendment restates the long-term agreement that no taxpayer dollars fund an abortion, and no American should be punished for refusing to participate in an abortion. That should not be controversial.”
In a floor speech, Lankford noted that the Hyde Amendment has “been the law of the land since 1976” and has “been signed into law by Democrat and Republican presidents alike.” Biden supported the Hyde Amendment before he ran for president.
“The Hyde Amendment reflects a decades-long consensus that millions of Americans who are profoundly opposed to abortion should not be forced to pay for the taking of human lives of children, or incentivize it with their taxpayer dollars,” Lankford said.
A Marist/Knights of Columbus poll this year found that by a margin of 58-38 percent, Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortions.
Lankford’s amendment also included language similar to the Weldon Amendment, which protects health care professionals from being forced to participate in abortion.
Democrats for Life celebrated the vote in a tweet: “The Hyde Amendment has been SAVED … Thank you @Sen_JoeManchin for standing up for LIFE!”
BREAKING NEWS: The Hyde Amendment has been SAVED and added to the latest Senate budget because of DFLA Endorsed Pro-Life Democrat Senator Joe Manchin!— Democrats for Life (@demsforlife) August 11, 2021
Thank you @Sen_JoeManchin for standing up for LIFE! 👏🏼 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/LOzzfh0r3t
The Susan B. Anthony List also applauded the vote.
“West Virginia is a deeply pro-life state, and Senator Manchin’s courageous votes have not gone unnoticed,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List said in a statement. “We encourage him to continue standing tall for the unborn and the pro-life Americans of the Mountain State.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.