- - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Forty years ago, Congress enacted the Hyde Amendment — a law that continues to this day to proscribe federal Medicaid funds from being used to subsidize abortion in most circumstances.

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies show that more than 2 million people are alive today because of Hyde.

Two million people who would have been aborted instead survived because public funds were unavailable to effectuate their violent demise while their mothers benefited from prenatal health care and support.

Two million survivors have had the opportunity to live and enjoy the first and most basic of all human rights — the right to life.

We are experiencing a megatrend in America — consistently reflected in polling data — that the American public not only does not support taxpayer funding for abortion but the public increasingly supports actions to protect unborn children and women from the violence of abortion.

People are seeing the truth of who abortion destroys as today’s proudly shared first baby pictures are most often ultrasound imaging photos depicting the amazing miracle of the developing child in the womb.

Growing numbers of Americans are often shocked to learn that the methods of abortion include dismemberment of a child’s fragile body, including decapitation and the severing of arms and legs, or the use of drugs like RU 486 that starve the child to death before forcibly expelling him or her from the safety of the womb.

Yet, the billion-dollar abortion industry continues to cleverly market the cheap sophistry of choice while going to extraordinary lengths to cover up, ignore or trivialize the battered victim in the womb.

Pro-life Americans struggle for the day when abortion violence will be replaced by compassion and empathy for women and respect for weak and vulnerable children in the womb.

They believe, as do my pro-life colleagues and I, that we ought to love them both — mother and child — and not fund the destruction of children through abortion.

Lawmakers also need to hear the courageous voices of women who are “silent no more” — a rapidly expanding number of women who share the heartbreak and agony they have endured after procuring an abortion.

A new Marist Poll released Jan. 23 found that a supermajority of Americans in the United States — 61 percent — oppose taxpayer funding for abortion — and only 35 percent support it.

Which is precisely what we seek to accomplish with enactment of HR 7. It would:

• Make the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide. (Soon after enactment of Hyde in 1976, other abortion funding “riders” were enacted into law. In 1983, for example, I authored the ban on funding abortion in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. Most must be legislatively renewed each year. Again, HR 7 makes the funding restrictions permanent.)

• Ensure the Affordable Care Act, until repeal, conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

I would like to thank House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers for their extraordinary leadership in bringing this legislation to the floor this week.

Someday, future generations of Americans will look back and wonder how and why such a seemingly smart and enlightened society could have permitted more than 60 million children to be exterminated by abortion, often with government enabling and subsidy.

History will note, however, that millions struggled to protect the battered unborn child and were willing to endure any sacrifice, or any smear, for the least of these.

The Hyde Amendment has saved at least 2 million lives — all of whom are precious and irreplaceable. It’s time to make it permanent law.

Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, is the co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

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