Congressman Henry J. Hyde from Illinois served in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 2007. During his expansive career in Congress, Hyde was a strong voice for the conservative agenda. If his name sounds familiar, you may remember him for being the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990’s.
Shortly before Congressman Hyde’s election to the House of Representatives, the 1973 Supreme Court decision inRoe v. Wade ruled that abortions were legal in the United States. In response, during Congressman Hyde’s first term in Congress, he proposed an amendment to the annual appropriations bill that funds the Department of Health and Human Services directing that no federal funding could be used to provide abortions.
This amendment, now commonly known as the Hyde Amendment, was signed into law in 1976. Unfortunately, it was immediately challenged in the courts, and it wasn’t until 1980 that the Hyde Amendment was enforced thanks to a Supreme Court ruling.
Since that year, every annual appropriations bill that funds the federal government’s discretionary spending has contained a version of this original Hyde Amendment in order to make it clear that the federal government does not directly fund abortions in this country.
I am always proud to support the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment in all funding bills, including in the most recent Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus bill that President Trump signed into law two months ago. Still, there were numerous sources claiming that this bill funds Planned Parenthood, so I’d like to set the record straight: Thanks to the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, this government funding package designates absolutely no money for abortion or for Planned Parenthood – not one dime.
By now, I don’t think it’s a secret that I am unapologetically pro-life. I believe life begins at conception, and I consider it one of my greatest responsibilities in Congress to fight on behalf of the unborn.
That said, I have always been candid and up-front with the people I represent about the stark reality we face with the Planned Parenthood machine. It would be very difficult to completely defund this organization because there are procedures and deeply entrenched special interests that are dedicated to protecting it.
Still, this would never stop me from trying. I have proudly voted in the House of Representatives several times to ban Planned Parenthood from applying to receive funding through the Health Resources Services Title X programs. In addition, states around the country, including Alabama, have attempted to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for their services.
This strict language I have always supported in the House to restrict Planned Parenthood always falters in the United States Senate. Our pro-life efforts face a clear challenge: The Senate does not have enough pro-life supporters to overcome the threshold of votes needed to pass these bills and send them to the President for his signature.
I have said numerous times that the Senate should reconsider its rules, especially as it relates to funding bills, in order for our pro-life language to even receive consideration.
I’ve fought the battle for the unborn alongside my pro-life colleagues throughout my time in Congress, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made despite the Planned Parenthood machine that is alive and well. Now that we finally have an Administration that shares our commitment to the cause, I’m hopeful we can make even more progress, but we still face significant challenges.
As it stands now, the aforementioned Title X program allows abortion clinics and Title X general medical clinics to be “co-located,” meaning the two can share the same facilities and even the same staff. This is particularly concerning since Title X provides abortion referrals from their medical clinics to the “co-located” clinics.
This is unacceptable, and I was one of 153 members of Congress who recently signed a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting that the practice be stopped. Our letter directs the Department to issue new regulations for the Title X program to mandate that the federally funded Title X clinics be physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. Additionally, we are asking that abortion referrals be eliminated from the grant program altogether.
During my time in Congress, I have been a vocal advocate for those who cannot yet speak for themselves. Because of this, I have consistently received a 100% rating from National Right to Life and a 0% rating from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. I will continue to defend the defenseless among us – even when Planned Parenthood and its allies seek to dismiss them. Our work is far from being complete, but I am proud of the steps we’ve taken, and I won’t stop fighting.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.