Joe Manchin and the Hyde Amendment Standoff

No presidential administration has ever been as anti-Life as the Biden Administration. Biden has promised to codify Roe v. Wade, and a bill to do so passed in the House of Representatives. He repealed the Mexico City Policy, which has previously protected American tax dollars from paying for abortions overseas. He has also removed Trump-era Pro-Life promises and protections. Now, the administration is a breath away from removing the Hyde Amendment, but one man is standing in the way.

Joe Manchin, Democratic senator from West Virginia, is the lone holdout from his party supporting the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing bipartisan budget rider that prohibits federal dollars from directly funding elective abortions, with exceptions for rape and incest. 

First introduced in 1976 and taking effect in 1980 under Jimmy Carter, the Hyde Amendment has been attached to nearly every spending bill for nearly half a century. Abortion supporters were handed a major win only three years prior with Roe, and Hyde represented a small compromise that ensures that Pro-Life taxpayers are not forced to subsidize most abortions.

The Hyde Amendment is an important policy that has always been extremely popular, even amongst those who support abortion. A majority of Americans, around 58%, are firmly against taxpayer funding of abortions, while only 38% are in favor of such a policy. The fact that abortion is an extremely weighty moral issue is widely recognized by both the abortion supporting and opposing public alike, and even by those involved in the political sphere. At least, that has been the case historically.

The White House and D.C. Democrats are currently trying to pass a massive 2,465 page, $3.5 trillion “reconciliation bill” that would in part establish new Medicaid programs in many states – without the inclusion of the Hyde Amendment. In order to pass this bill, all 50 Senate Democrats must cast a vote in favor so that Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie. Two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have expressed opposition to the size of the bill, but Manchin is the only one who refuses to support a spending bill that lacks Hyde.

Manchin has held strong on this stance for his entire career, and he plans to continue to do so. “Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,” Manchin told the National Review in late September. “It has to be. It has to be. That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.” This has earned him the full enmity of the Democratic party. For simply supporting a once bipartisan policy that doesn’t even ban or restrict abortion, he is labeled as a “traitor” to the cause.

The Democratic Party used to be the party of “safe, legal, and rare,” referring to abortion as a unfortunate part of life and as a “necessary evil.” This stance was unfortunate, but at the very least this mindset opened the door for conversation with the Pro-Life side. Even Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment until he began campaigning for the presidency in 2019, when he suddenly sacrificed his convictions in order to appeal to the progressive Left.

Now, the Democratic Party is flagrantly and proudly anti-Life. They now use language like “abortion on demand and without apology.” Any compromise or nuance at all would be a betrayal of the values of the new Left. This mindset has infected the whole party, so that any Democrat who believes otherwise, such as Manchin, is automatically the target of the full rage of the anti-Life crowd.

With their chastisement of Manchin, the Democratic Party has laid all their cards on the table. They have stopped pretending to have any fragment of respect for the sanctity and dignity of human Life. Senator Manchin must continue to hold his ground to ensure the Hyde Amendment is included in every spending bill. For this, defenders of Life owe him a debt of gratitude.

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