Joe Manchin And Republican Friend Sign Letter Supporting The Terrible Hyde Amendment

Joe Manchin And Republican Friend Sign Letter Supporting The Terrible Hyde Amendment
Photo by Ryan Stanton, Creative Commons License 2.0

This May, Joe Biden made good on a campaign promise and did not include the Hyde Amendment in his budget proposal, despite having previously supported it. This was a very good thing, as the Hyde Amendment — which prohibits the use of federal tax dollars towards abortion, except cases of rape or incest — is very, very bad. It disproportionately hurts low-income people and people of color and rather than being a "common sense compromise," it is completely nonsensical given how much federal tax money goes to things people are just as morally opposed to as abortion.

Thus, it's quite unfortunate that Joe Manchin has joined forces with Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker, sending a letter to Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby to express their support for putting the Hyde Amendment back into the budget proposal.

They wrote:

We write to express our support for the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in annual appropriations bills on a bipartisan basis since 1976. Specifically, this amendment prohibits federal funding for elective abortion coverage, except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger, through any program funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act. The Hyde Amendment is a decades-long, consensus-building compromise, and we urge you to maintain this longstanding provision in the Fiscal Year 2022 bill.

Recent public polls show almost 60 percent of Americans oppose or strongly oppose using taxpayer dollars to support abortion. Both Democrat and Republican Presidents have signed the Hyde Amendment into law. It has passed through both Democrat and Republican controlled Congresses, and it was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1980. Repealing this provision would eliminate over 40 years of bipartisan precedent. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with you as the appropriations process moves forward.

You know, I keep hearing that we have to elect moderates because progressives will just never be able to convince Republicans to vote for stuff we want, but it sure seems like literally every time they team up with Republicans it is for something Republicans want. Sometimes even before they are asked. Is Manchin just saving up an incredible amount of I.O.U.'s that he is going to cash in for something incredible, like a giant stuffed panda or Mötley Crüe mirror?

I will give them this. It is probably true that 60 percent of United States Americans are opposed to "taxpayer funding for abortion." Probably because it's safe to assume that when they hear that question in a poll, they're almost definitely thinking that it would mean that any American can walk into an abortion clinic and get an abortion free of charge on the taxpayer's dime. Now, I would personally be in favor of that, especially if we were to switch to a free-at-the-point-of-service Medicare for All system, but that's not what we're talking about here.

What we are talking about is people not being able to use their own health insurance for a legal medical procedure because some people are personally opposed to that medical procedure — if they get their health care from the government. This applies not only to people on Medicaid but also to members of the armed forces, federal workers and their families, prisoners, peace corps volunteers, Indigenous people (who get healthcare through the Indian Health Service), and anyone else whose healthcare is taken care of by the federal government.

Just to be clear — this means that whether or not we think war is immoral, our tax dollars will be used to send members of the armed forces to go overseas to kill fully formed human beings (possibly pregnant human beings and the fetus inside them), but they can't use the health care that is part of their compensation package to get a voluntary abortion because some doofus doesn't want his tax dollars going towards abortion.

The Department of Defense, by the way, spends $84 million a year on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs.

When someone who wants an abortion can't have one because they can't afford one, that person is far more likely to fall into poverty than someone who can get one. They are also significantly more likely to require public assistance, which one would imagine uses up a lot more "taxpayer dollars" than Medicaid covering an abortion would. Those people are also, as Rep. Barbara Lee has pointed out umpteen million times, most likely to be women of color, which makes this shit both very expensive and blatantly racist.

So while the Hyde Amendment may seem like a real feel-good bipartisan thing that we should keep going because of how bipartisan it used to be, it is bad and it is expensive and also it's not "bipartisan" anymore if there's only one Democrat in the Senate pushing for it.

And just for the record? Both West Virginia and Mississippi have very high infant mortality rates. Mississippi's is the highest in the land. So perhaps both of these gentlemen should focus on measures that might save the pregnancies that people actually want instead of ... well, this shit.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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