The New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC) is fighting to prevent taxpayer-funded abortions.

On July 7, Dennis Poust, executive director of the NYSCC, drafted a letter to the state congressional delegation opposing any threat to the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing, bipartisan act that prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

According to Poust: “These consensus provisions have been approved year after year by Congress and presidents of both political parties. For almost half a century, the Hyde Amendment has protected taxpayers from having abortion imposed upon them by forcing them to pay for an act that destroys unborn human lives. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment, and has said that government may reasonably favor childbirth over abortion and allocate funding accordingly (Harris v McRae).”

The Hyde Amendment has been in effect since 1976 with little pushback from either political party and has been reenacted in spending bills every year since its passage. 

On May 28, President Joe Biden released a budget proposal that removed the long-standing ban on federal funding for abortions. Once an ardent supporter of the Hyde Amendment, Biden changed his position in the lead up to the 2020 presidential campaign, saying that new efforts to restrict abortion called for a change in circumstances.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops vehemently disagree with the decision.

“Whatever one’s position on the morality or legality of abortion, we all know it is unique,” Poust wrote. “Indeed, the High Court has said: ‘Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.’ When the federal government subsidizes certain conduct, it encourages the behavior. Through the allocation of their tax dollars, Americans should not be compelled to finance nor encourage the practice of abortion.

“In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis declared: ‘Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this … It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.’ ”

Since Hyde’s removal, 22 attorneys general signed a joint letter to House and Senate leaders calling to keep the amendment in any budget measure that passes.

“I urge you to partner with us in providing support, funding, and programs to assist pregnant women facing challenging situations, and to empower them to bear their children and raise their families with dignity,” Poust added. “Again, I implore you to oppose any appropriations bill that expands taxpayer funding of abortion. Please know that you and your staff are in my prayers and the prayers of the Bishops as you continue your important work on behalf of our beloved country.”

With Catholic News Service