The abortion debate has certainly taken a lot of twists and turns over the years, with both sides fervently arguing for what they believe in. And although everyone almost certainly knows what Roe v. Wade is all about, being the landmark Supreme case that ruled government regulation of abortions to be unconstitutional, a lot fewer people know about the Hyde Amendment, which is a piece of legislation that is arguably just as significant as Roe v. Wade, especially in wake of the 2020 Democratic primaries, with many democratic candidates promising to eliminate the Hyde amendment if they were to become President.
In essence, the Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Now there are a few exceptions to this rule, the main ones being that abortion can be done with federal funding if the life of the mother is in danger and an abortion is necessary to save her life, or if the pregnancy was a product of either incest or rape. In all of these cases, the abortion can be funded with federal dollars. However, these are very rare cases and for all intents and purposes can be ignored.
So what does this all really mean? Well when we are talking about “federal funding” we are essentially talking about the federal taxes that every American citizen pays to Uncle Sam. The reason the Hyde Amendment was put in place is so that no matter what your own personal view on abortion was, you were ensured that your hard earned income wasn’t inadvertently paying for someone else’s abortion through federally funded facilities such as Planned Parenthood. Although places like this would be able to use federal funds to provide general reproductive health services, abortions using that money would not be allowed.
Although, this certainly didn’t do anything to quell the overarching debate over whether abortion should be legal, it at least gave comfort to Pro-Life advocates knowing that if someone wanted an abortion, they would not be getting financial help from people who outright opposed abortion in general. And in all honesty, it was a reasonable position to take, regardless of if you were on the pro-life side of the aisle or the pro-choice side.
However, the Hyde Amendment has become a hot talking point yet again thanks to numerous democratic presidential candidates publicly stating their opposition to it. And it just doesn’t make any sense. Even if we can’t fully prevent people in this country from having an abortion (at least not yet), we definitely should not be forced to foot the bill for someone else to have their own abortion. The simple fact of the matter is that abortion isn’t even remotely close to being universally accepted as something that should be funded on a federal level. In fact, because abortion remains such a controversial topic on a national level overall, there really only is one logical path forward, and that is to keep the Hyde Amendment in place, to prevent millions of American citizens from effectively paying for something that they so strongly oppose.