Saturday, September 25, 2021
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Biden faces a battle over taxpayer-funded abortion

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LAST week, President Joe Biden submitted a $6trillion budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. It is highly detailed, expansive, and excludes the Hyde Amendment.

This amendment is usually a ‘rider’ to the annual appropriations Bill, prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions, except in cases of danger to the life of the mother, incest or rape. It restricts abortion coverage for recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, federal employees, servicewomen and residents of Washington DC. It was passed in 1976, three years after the landmark  Roe v. Wade (1973) decision that legalised abortion.

Biden’s decision to exclude the Hyde Amendment is provocative and sets his party up for a big fight with Republicans. Some suggest it is a ploy to divert attention away from the vast expenditure proposed in the budget and that it may find its way back into the Bill as it progresses through Congress.  

Before the Hyde Amendment, an estimated 300,000 abortions were performed each year in the US using federal taxpayer funds. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a ‘pro-life’ research group, estimates that the amendment saves 60,000 unborn babies annually.

For over forty years, Congress has attached the amendment to relevant spending Bills to prevent federal money being used to underwrite elective abortion procedures, with one exception: in 1993, the Clinton Administration tried and failed to remove it. 

During his decades as Delaware senator, and as Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden was a consistent supporter of Hyde, using it to illustrate his ‘personally pro-life’ credentials. He insisted that no Americans who opposed abortion should be forced to see their tax dollars spent on abortion.

The political consensus changed in 2016, when the Democratic Party’s official platform proposed an end to Hyde as more radical Left-wing politicians became increasingly responsive to abortion-advocacy groups.

Biden dumped his ‘pro-life’ values during the Democratic primary campaign and fell in step with his party’s march leftward. He promised that if elected President, he would ‘change the law’. Now we see the second Catholic president in US history seeking to break with a well-established compromise which protects the consciences of pro-life citizens and will expand access to abortion across the country. His proposals would guarantee funding for Planned Parenthood (PPFA), the country’s biggest abortion business – money that President Trump blocked.  

The Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood want Hyde removed permanently, calling it ‘discriminatory’ and a barrier to ‘economic and racial justice’ because it most often affects Medicaid recipients, who are generally low-income. However Biden’s move to end Hyde will undoubtedly face strong resistance as most Americans remain opposed to taxpayer funded abortion. Republican politicians are prepared to block his budget.

The sad fact is that the US government has been paying for abortions since Planned Parenthood was established in 1916. As a non-profit organisation it is tax-exempt.

Its latest glossy Annual Report (2019-2020) includes the mandatory effusive expressions of support for BLM and #Defund the Police. It details ‘positive progress’ in meeting ‘women’s health needs’ by the issue of 584,003 ‘emergency contraception kits’, usually morning-after pills or postal abortion kits, and 354,871 ‘abortion procedures’.

Its balance sheet (June 30, 2020) shows global net assets of $2,341.2million with the US government contributing 38 per cent of annual revenue. Planned Parenthood does not skimp on management expenses, recording a high 16 per cent of total spend. The report is oddly lacking in specific data on executive and director remuneration.  

For some Democrats, abortion is no longer a moral issue: it is women’s healthcare, ‘no big deal’. This is partly the result of generational changes with people who have grown up with Roe v Wade and a society that encourages individuals to focus only on their immediate desires. Irresponsible sex and an absence of social disapproval, a loss of religious adherence and the long-term impacts of feminism that disparaged motherhood as servitude all play their part. Over six years ago, a hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion ‘inspired’ thousands of women to share their abortion stories with pride. Abortion – no longer shameful, but a cause for celebration.

Estimates suggest there are one million clinical abortions every year in America and statistical analyses show that more than a third of them (37 per cent) involve black women, who are 13 per cent of the female population. White women, at 60 per cent of the female population, account for 38 per cent of abortions. Hispanic women, 18.5 per cent of the female population, account for 20 per cent.

The extraordinary rate of abortion of black babies surely warrants greater attention. You might think that if ‘Black Lives Matter’ political efforts and protests might be directed to prevent these deaths rather than shift tax dollars to facilitate more of them.  

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Kate Dunlop
Kate Dunlop is a mediator.

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