What’s so wrong with the Hyde amendment?

There are so many issues in the health care debate, you need a scorecard to keep up with them. One that keeps many people scratching their heads is what’s so wrong with the Hyde amendment? As Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh asks today in an op-ed piece in washingtonpost.com’s “On Faith” blog, why is the Senate hiding from Hyde?

Sister Walsh is the director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The U.S. bishops have come down firmly on the side of universal health care, but they are equally firm that reform of the current system must not include an expansion of federal funding of abortion itself or of insurance plans that cover abortion.  The Senate bill — the only one under consideration in this 11th hour of the debate — does not include any specific prohibition, such as the Hyde amendment, which forbids federal funds being used for abortions. Congress has refused to put a Hyde-like prohibition in the Senate bill, claiming that it isn’t needed. But as Sister Walsh points out, “The Hyde Amendment has been satisfactory for America for almost 35 years. Why not incorporate it into health care reform legislation now?”

Do we really need Hyde in this legislation? You bet, say the bishops. What would happen if there is no specific prohibition? One needs a crystal ball to say definitively, but hammering out public policy, especially such sweeping public policy, always means trying to anticipate the future and prepare for the “what ifs.”

Part of the bishops’ concern is over the “what if” community health centers, a federally funded program, suddenly found themselves forced to offer elective abortions. They do not do so now, but the bishops maintain that the reform legislation, if enacted into law, ultimately would require them to do so. This is a complex issue. The USCCB has issued a fact sheet explaining the quandry that health centers would find themselves in if the Senate bill is passed without a specific fix.

What’s the fix? As Sister Walsh points out, there is an easy one: Hyde.

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4 Responses to What’s so wrong with the Hyde amendment?

  1. J. Bob says:

    If I read the Hyde Amendment right, it ONLY applies to funding by HHS. Taxes collected come to the Treasury dept., and are not subject to Hyde. Hence there is no trace as to how tax money is spent, especially in a 2700+ page bill.

    With the complexity (deliberate) of this Health Bill, one can almost see the “father of lies” at work.

  2. Jim says:

    This is a disingenuous posting. Why does the author not ask what is wrong with the Stupek amendment which is so strongly opposed by the Democratic majority? It speaks to the duplicity of this whole thing. Prior to the elections I spoke to a Priest who supported Obama’s election. I challenged him saying, “We cannot trade the fundamental right to life and freedom of conscience for all his promises regarding healthcare, education etc. His reply: “We shouldn’t have to.” So here was a left wing priest who when asked straight up about these issues declared he was willing to trade those things for a health care overhaul. At least he was honest about it.

  3. Elisa S says:

    Why does CHA support Health care reform without written guarantees for Catholic moral principles for the right to life, and freedom of conscience for individuals and organizations?

    Have they traded in their Catholic values for a steady revenue stream? The good in serving the poor would be weighted against the adoption of evil practices.

    There are many other non-profits who would gladly help the poor if they were compensated financially from the government. And they would perform abortions on demand and assisted suicides equally as well.

    So what would differentiate CHA from these other health care groups?

    It would be NOTHING because they abandoned the very thing that made Catholic health care special: Christ.

  4. MiddleGrounder says:

    I do hope discussions about the Hyde Amendment get amplified as healthcare begins to slowly change with the new bill.

    Even when the “moral” aspect of abortion is set aside, Hyde is still 100% IN LINE with Roe v. Wade and public life in general!! The government does not pay for things it has no jurisdiction over. Since elective abortion is a service that is legally for sale in this country, it can be likened to purchasing merchandise. Just because we may have the right to buy something does NOT mean the government has to pay for it!!

    When you begin to group abortion with healthcare you coast into trouble because it sets the stage for absorbing the consequences of people’s bad choices.

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