In a massive shift in the cultural battle over abortion, the House of Representatives has voted on a largely party-line split to remove the Helms amendment from a foreign-related spending bill and the Hyde Amendment from a separate domestic spending bill.
The amendments have been in place for decades and their removal is a deviation from precedent. The Helms Amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion overseas while the Hyde Amendment bans using any taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions in America.
The House passed the foreign spending bill along near-unanimous party lines, nixing the Helms Amendment by a margin of 217 to 212. Every Republican and three Democrats — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Cori Bush, D-Mo. — voted against the bill. The domestic spending bill also passed on party lines by a vote of 219 to 208 after it was stripped of the Hyde Amendment.
Both bills now head to the Senate, where they will face a tougher test as moderate Democrats are unlikely to vote for spending packages that don’t include the bans on taxpayer-funded abortions.
The vote undercuts the will of the majority of Americans, who largely oppose the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion, whether it be in the U.S. or abroad.
A 2021 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 58 percent of Americans opposed taxpayer funding of abortion in the U.S. and 77 percent opposed taxpayer funding of abortion outside the country.
So uniform is the public’s opposition to taxpayer-funded abortion outside the U.S. that 64 percent of those who identified as pro-choice said they were against it.
American abortion policy not only deviates from the public’s stance, but from global standards. For example, 47 out of 50 European countries place limits on abortion at or before 15 weeks, with 40 of them either banning elective abortions or restricting them to the first 12 weeks. Yet Mississippi will defend its 15-week abortion restriction at the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, and if the law is upheld, it would be only the first state allowed to have an enforceable 15-week ban.
The unconstrained nature of U.S. abortion laws is actually in the tiny minority, globally lining up most closely with such nations as China, North Korea, Vietnam, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Canada.
It is important to remember that America’s abortion law was imposed by judicial decree, not the will of the people. Much as it is with the authoritarian regimes of North Korea and China, what citizens believe about abortion is increasingly irrelevant to the ruling class.
Even nations that are generally considered to be much more progressive than the United States do not have the carte blanche abortion laws that America does. Great Britain, for example, does not allow for elective abortions and requires a sound reason for anyone to have an abortion.
To the Church, life is sacred and should be protected at any point in a pregnancy, but even to those who believe in fewer restrictions on abortions, it should be a source of shame that America is so cavalier with the lives of our most vulnerable. Human rights are not an area where one wants to be compatriots with the likes of China and North Korea.
Not only are abortion extremists forcing unfettered abortion on Americans, but they are also forcing it on other nations who oppose abortion. It is the height of racism to export this American horror to developing nations, sometimes attaching it to aid for critical needs like food, medicine, and education. That should come as no surprise considering the history of pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, which was founded by practicing eugenicist Margaret Sanger as a way to eliminate minority and disabled children.
The idea that the government, against the will of the people, would use Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars to kill children at home and around the world is reprehensible. Congress may have removed the protections of the Helms and Hyde Amendments, but ultimately this is a problem created by the Supreme Court and one that can only be fixed by the Supreme Court.
Let’s hope that the Supreme Court will soon act to rescind Roe v. Wade and put this issue back into the hands of the people through the democratic and legislative processes.