Republican Sen. Ben Sasse blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for seeking to include a potential way to guarantee federal funding for abortion into the coronavirus economic stimulus plan that passed the House just before 1 a.m. Saturday.
“While schools are closing and hospitals are gearing up, Speaker Pelosi is waging unnecessary culture wars,” Sasse told National Review in a statement. “Speaker Pelosi should be fighting the coronavirus pandemic, not politicizing emergency funding by fighting against the bipartisan Hyde Amendment.”
Sasse added, “We need to be ramping up our diagnostic testing, not waging culture wars at the behest of Planned Parenthood. Good grief.”
Sasse was referring to a report in the Daily Caller, in which White House officials anonymously said that Pelosi attempted to secure a funding stream of up to $1 billion for reimbursing laboratory claims. According to the officials, the provision would set a precedent of health spending without protections outlined in the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal tax dollars from paying for abortions.
“Under the guise of protecting people, Speaker Pelosi is working to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent covering abortion — which is not only backwards, but goes against historical norms,” a White House official was quoted as saying.
In an interview on Fox News Thursday, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York alluded to Pelosi’s attempt. “Right now we are hearing that some of the fights and some of the gridlock is because people are trying to put pro-life provisions into this,” she said.
Many Democrats want to eliminate the Hyde Amendment.
Last June, former Vice President Joe Biden said: “I’ve supported the Hyde Amendment like many, many others have because there was sufficient monies and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right. But circumstances have changed. I’ve been working through the final details of my healthcare plan like others in this race and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents. I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to care they need and the ability to constitute, exercise their constitutionally protected right.”
The Hyde Amendment (named after late Congressman Henry Hyde) was passed in 1976, three years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade. The amendment is affirmed each year by Congress as a rider to the HHS appropriations bill because it prohibits federal funding of abortions. The rider has said various things over the years but the current version includes exceptions that allow Medicaid funds to be used for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother — but all other federal taxpayer funding of abortion is banned by Hyde.
As an op-ed by The Christian Post noted, “Between 1976, when the Hyde Amendment first passed, and 1980 when it took effect (after the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional), federal tax dollars funded 25% of all abortions nationally or some 300,000 abortions annually. To be clear, before the Hyde Amendment went into effect, America’s taxpayers paid for nearly a million abortions.”