Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
October 6, 2020
Last week, Congress passed a spending bill to keep the government open. While our budget and appropriations processes are broken, and these massive spending bills are riddled with excess and waste, one previously bipartisan hallmark has come under scrutiny: a frightening reflection of the leftward shift of today’s Democratic Party on the issue of abortion.
In 1976, Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois first offered an amendment to the appropriations package to prevent elective abortions from being funded by federal taxpayers through Medicaid and other federal health-care programs. His amendment was accepted on a bipartisan basis and has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support for the past 44 years. It has been included in every annual spending package, including this year’s.
But if House Democrats and abortion activists on the radical Left have their way in the next Congress, this will be the last year that taxpayers are not forced to bear the burden of funding abortions.
Liberal Democrats in the House, with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), have signaled that they no longer will include the Hyde Amendment in funding packages starting next year.
Speaker Pelosi intends to strong-arm Americans into using their tax dollars to fund this life-ending procedure that Democrats once said should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Support for taxpayer-funded abortion has become a litmus test among Democrats of one’s adherence to the party’s new radical orthodoxy on the issue. It is no longer enough for Democrats such as Speaker Pelosi to support a woman’s “right to choose.”
Some adherents of this new orthodoxy, which I completely disagree with, argue that abortion is a right and that it is unfair for governments to withhold funding for elective abortion. In fact, the Supreme Court answered this very question in Harris v. McRae in 1980. A majority of the Court, along with Justice Byron White’s concurring opinion, referenced the Court’s decision in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which made clear that the State has an “important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.”
The Court concluded, “It follows that the Hyde Amendment, by encouraging childbirth except in the most urgent circumstances, is rationally related to the legitimate governmental objective of protecting potential life.”
Americans should believe in the sanctity of life, that all human beings have equal dignity and worth because they are endowed with rights from our Creator. As a father and a grandfather, I value all life, including the unborn. My mom was a single mom to two little boys before she met my adopted dad. We were very poor, and we struggled, but my mom always figured out how to make ends meet. And she taught me the importance of always choosing life.
I want to make sure that expectant mothers facing difficult circumstances have the resources and support they need to carry their children to term.
That’s why, as governor of Florida, I signed legislation to authorize permanent funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which support mothers and fathers every step of the way. It’s why I signed legislation to limit state funding for abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, which do not share the common belief that all life is valuable. And it’s why I required physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals – a reasonable standard to protect health and safety.
Congress should not throw away the Hyde Amendment and force American taxpayers to fund the widespread destruction of innocent life. Congress should instead find ways to cut taxes, cut spending, and support priorities important to all American families — and that certainly doesn’t include requiring every American to fund abortions.
RICK SCOTT is the junior U.S. senator from Florida. He served as Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019.