President Biden drew a rebuke from U.S. bishops for omitting from his proposed $6 trillion budget the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion, breaking with a budgetary precedent in place since 1976.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Friday by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urging 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 Naumann said. “This should include the 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, and mothers in difficult circumstances, from the tragedy of abortion.”
The statement came shortly after Mr. Biden made good on his 2019 campaign promise to jettison the Hyde Amendment, reversing his previous support for the bipartisan measure included in every federal budget for 45 years.
The move was especially striking given that Mr. Biden is only the second Catholic president in U.S. history. In January, White House press secretary Jen Psaki described him as a regular churchgoer and “devout Catholic.”
“Joe Biden can claim to be a devout Catholic all he wants, but when it comes to choosing between his Church and the abortion industry, there’s never a doubt where his true devotion lies,” CatholicVote tweeted Friday.
The Hyde omission drew cheers from Democrats and pro-choice groups, including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“President Biden’s budget, which proposes ending the Hyde Amendment, is a historic step in the fight for reproductive freedom,” Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted: “Budgets should be a reflection of our values. I am so glad to see @POTUS propose a budget free from the Hyde Amendment.”
“It’s time to pass a federal budget that affirms abortion care as the fundamental right that it is,” she added.
If Mr. Biden succeeds in lifting the Hyde ban, however, it probably won’t be through the Fiscal Year 2022 budget process, as Republicans made clear.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, described the president’s proposal as “dead on arrival,” citing its dramatic increases in non-defense spending and taxes.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Mr. Biden is “destroying decades of settled precedent by calling for direct taxpayer-funded abortion.”
The Hyde Amendment, which has been revised several times, prohibits Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs from covering most abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.
Pro-life advocates cited a January poll by Marist/Knights of Columbus that found 77% of Americans oppose federal funding to promote abortions overseas and 58% oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for U.S. abortions.
“Once a supporter of policies that protect the lives of the unborn and their mothers, President Biden today caters to the most extreme voices within his party,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “We urge our congressional allies to be fearless in fighting to preserve the common-ground Hyde principle.”
U.S. bishops called out Mr. Biden in March for failing to include Hyde Amendment language in the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, a break with previous pandemic spending, calling it “unconscionable.”
The bishops are expected to discuss at their meeting next month whether pro-choice politicians should receive communion, an issue that has crested as Mr. Biden pursues aggressive policies aimed at expanding abortion access.
“Taxpayer-funded abortion represents a failure to serve women in their maternity by funding despair and death instead of hope and life,” Archbishop Naumann said in his statement. “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.”