Southern Baptists affirm that every life is worthy of protection, beginning with the unborn. We believe life begins at conception, and that abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection. Scripture is clear that every person is made in the image of God – including the unborn – and his knowledge of the unborn even precedes the creative act of conception (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13).
In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was introduced to prevent taxpayer dollars from being allocated for abortion. Americans are divided over the issue of abortion, and many Americans strongly object to their tax dollars being used for what they believe to be a great moral wrong. In 1976, the Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde proposed an amendment to the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare, Appropriation Act that prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion.
For over forty years, the Hyde Amendment has been passed each Congress. The Hyde Amendment blocks federal funding for abortions, except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, because Congressman Hyde believed that no one should be required to pay for abortion. Since Medicaid is funded both by federal and state dollars, states can decide to use their own fundings to cover abortions. Currently, 17 states have decided to use state funding to provide abortions for Medicaid recipients.
There is deep concern that the abortion industry is working to remove any Hyde protection during the 116th Congressional appropriations process. For the first time, the 2016 Democratic platform declared “they would 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.” Before the Hyde Amendment was introduced, approximately 300,000 abortions a year were performed using Medicaid dollars. It is estimated that the Hyde Amendment has saved over two million lives since it was enacted.
The ERLC strongly urges Congress to defend these protections against federal funds being used for abortion and to ensure that pro-life spending riders are approved in all spending legislation passed in the 116th Congress. The Hyde Amendment saves lives and protects American consciences by preventing taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions.