NEW YORK – Just after the US bishops launched a petition urging the government to prevent federal taxpayer funding of abortion, President Joe Biden, only the country’s second Roman Catholic commander-in-chief, took steps to make such funding a reality.
Friday afternoon, Biden unveiled his administration’s $6 trillion federal budget proposal that didn’t include the Hyde Amendment, a bipartisan measure preventing federal funding of abortion that’s been in place for the last 45 years.
Such a move was long expected, as it was a promise on Biden’s campaign trail. In a statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities chairman immediately called on Congress to “reject the administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children.”
“I call on all government leaders to work toward a budget that truly builds up the common good of all,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann said. “This should include many proposals in the President’s budget submission that seek to protect vulnerable people and it must also preserve the Hyde Amendment and related provisions which have protected millions of unborn babies, mothers in difficult circumstances, from the tragedy of abortion.”
Naumann also noted the long standing bi-partisan support from both democrats and republicans, and by the majority of low-income women, including women of color. He claims the resources would be better used supporting mothers.
“Taxpayer-funded abortion represents a failure to serve women in their maternity by funding despair and death instead of hope and life,” Naumann said.
“All women deserve the resources to enable them to fully care for and nurture their baby, to welcome them in a loving, stable environment,” he continued. “These resources would be far better spent supporting women in crisis pregnancies and struggling new mothers so that no woman ever feels economic pressure to have an abortion.”
As mentioned, people on both sides of the political aisle, Catholic and not, suspected this move was coming because Biden campaigned against the amendment. For that reason, Naumann has encouraged people to sign a petition – through notaxpayerabortion.com – that urges Congress to advocate for the Hyde Amendment.
In a conversation with Currents News of the Brooklyn diocese earlier this week, Naumann said the most important thing is for people to appeal directly to their congressmen and congresswomen.
“We need to talk to our people in Congress. Your representatives, but also your senators,” Naumann said. “They’re the ones that will hold power for this. Our only defense is to get to our people in Congress.”
As part of the interview, Naumann referenced statistics that the Hyde Amendment cuts the number of abortions in half, and it has saved 2.4 million people’s lives. Naumann fears those numbers will rise without the Hyde Amendment in the budget.
“What’s even more tragic is (the numbers) will go up in ethnic communities, where for instance African American children are aborted at a much higher percentage than their percentage in the population,” Naumann said. “I think the same will happen for Asians.”
There’s still a long road ahead before a federal budget could officially be without the Hyde Amendment for the first time in nearly a half century.
Congress still has to negotiate the proposal. Given staunch Republican support, experts say it may prove difficult to get a budget without the Hyde Amendment past a divided, 50-50 US Senate.
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg