Published in the Sept. 16 issue of The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, this was written by John F. Fink, editor emeritus.


The Hyde Amendment is 40 years old this year. It undoubtedly has saved many lives. But the Democratic Party officially wants to repeal it, against the wishes of pro-life Democrats and almost everyone else.

Named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, who was a strong pro-life congressman, the amendment had wide bipartisan support when it was passed in 1976 because neither party thought that taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortions. How times have changed!

The Hyde Amendment says: “None of the funds appropriated by this title shall be available to pay for an abortion, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or in the case of rape or incest.”

For 40 years, the amendment has been attached to the federal budget and spending bills passed by Congress. The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, has estimated that one out of four babies born to mothers on Medicaid would have been aborted were it not for the Hyde Amendment.

At this summer’s Democratic National Convention, pro-abortion delegates managed to pass the party’s platform with this language: “We will continue to oppose — and seek to overturn — federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

Despite the efforts of pro-life Democrats, this made the Democratic Party more clearly the party of abortion. Its leaders believe that it will win the support of women who, they think, support legalized abortion and would like to have the government pay for them.

That doesn’t seem to be true, though. In an article reporting on the Democrats’ plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment, Our Sunday Visitor included the results of a survey conducted in July by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion for the Knights of Columbus. It showed that 62 percent of all Americans strongly oppose tax-funded abortion.

The survey results showed that tax-funded abortion is opposed by 65 percent of African-Americans, 61 percent of Latinos, 84 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents, and 44 percent of Democrats. According to Democrats for Life, by the way, one-third of Democrats, or about 23 million voters, are pro-life.

The Democratic nominees for president and vice president, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, have both declared their support for the party’s push to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Clinton has long supported so-called abortion rights before organizations like Planned Parenthood, and is known for her remark at the World Summit of Women in 2015 that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” She has changed since she first ran for president in 2008 when she echoed her husband’s campaign of making abortion “safe, legal and rare.”

Kaine, a Catholic, meanwhile, has supported the Hyde Amendment in the past, but changed his position when the Democratic platform was passed and he became Clinton’s running mate.

We admit that we do not expect the Hyde Amendment to be repealed. That would require an act of Congress, and it is highly unlikely that Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives. But just the fact that this got into the Democratic platform demonstrates how far our society has fallen in this post-Christian world.

Abortion proponents have been successful in convincing Americans that abortion is just a normal part of women’s health care, something that women should do if they happen to become pregnant at an inconvenient time. At the Democratic convention, delegates actually cheered when Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, bragged that she had aborted her child for that reason. Women are being encouraged to be proud, not ashamed, of killing their unborn child, as demonstrated by the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign.

All this is being reported shortly after the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata. Perhaps we can think about what she said back in 1982 when she gave an address at Harvard University: “It is something unbelievable that today a mother, herself, murders her own child, afraid of having to feed one more child. This is one of the greatest poverties. A nation, people, family that allows that, that accepts that, they are the poorest of the poor.”