House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) pledged to do away with the longstanding ban on taxpayer funding of abortion, sparking pushback from Democratic and pro-life activist groups.
Pelosi told a group of Democratic lawmakers that House leadership will no longer include the five-decade-old Hyde Amendment in government funding bills in 2021, according to the Los Angeles Times. Democratic nominee Joe Biden also changed his position on the amendment at the beginning of his presidential run after repeatedly voting for it in the Senate. The sharp tack to the left alarmed some within the party.
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Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.), a pro-life Democrat who lost his primary to a far-left challenger in March, told the Washington Free Beacon he had not heard from Pelosi about the plan, but that special interest pro-abortion groups were pushing the party to extremes on the issue.
"There were many Democrats who pushed for an end to the Hyde Amendment in the appropriations bills passed by the House this year, but it was not done," Lipinski said. "Presumably it was not done because the Hyde Amendment is still supported by a clear majority of Americans."
Pelosi's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Biden changed his position on the amendment at the beginning of his presidential run. He said he did so because "times have changed" on the issue, citing the passage of legislation restricting abortion in several states in recent years.
"Nancy Pelosi said, as recently as 2017, that there is room in the Democratic Party for pro-life Democrats. Her actions to eliminate a bipartisan policy supported by a majority of this nation show otherwise," Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, told the Free Beacon. Day warned party leaders they would alienate otherwise reliable Democratic voters by embracing taxpayer-funded abortion.
The Hyde Amendment remains popular with voters decades after its creation in 1976, as 49 percent of voters support it while only 33 percent oppose it. Lipinski said the private nature of Pelosi's remarks, as well as the fact that Democratic leaders are waiting until after November to abolish Hyde, demonstrates a lack of confidence in the appeal of taxpayer-funded abortion.
"Dropping the Hyde Amendment would be not only terrible policy but also bad politics for Democrats," Lipinski said.
Pro-life groups ripped Pelosi for entertaining the possibility of ditching the amendment.
"Repealing the Hyde Amendment would mean a sharp increase in taxpayer funding of elective abortion, primarily for women of color. This is a racist and eugenicist position, essentially telling women that you’d rather ensure the government pay for the destruction of their children, rather than offer life-affirming help," Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications at the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said. "A majority of Americans—including a strong number of rank-and-file Democrats—don’t want to be complicit in abortion through their taxpayer money."
Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said voter opinion is dwarfed by the influx of campaign cash that Democrats receive from pro-abortion groups that have long lobbied for taxpayer abortion funding. Planned Parenthood has pledged to spend at least $45 million on the 2020 elections after spending $38 million in 2016.
"Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of Americans oppose their tax dollars being used to fund abortion, yet Democrats remain hellbent on thwarting the will of the people—and funding abortion anyway," Schilling said. "As with so many other issues, Democrats have completely sold out to the far left. They've made it clear that they will always advance the cause of abortion, no matter what the American people think. Voters need to recognize that and hold them accountable."