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At ReligiousDispatches.org, pro-abort Frederick Clarkson got half his premise wrong, claiming pro-lifers are reaching beyond the Hyde Amendment in our fight to prohibit public funded abortions in healthcare. But Clarkson made a fascinating point, one I think most of us missed…

Last summer President Barack Obama told Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News that there is a “tradition” in Washington “of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.” This benchmark moment in the history of abortion rights in the United States was more than 3 decades in the making.
The ostensibly pro-choice president was referring to the principles of the Hyde Amendment passed 3 years after Roe vs. Wade….

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Named for the conservative Catholic congressman, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), it proscribed federal funds from being used to provide abortions. The main effect was to remove abortion from the list of medical services that could be paid for through the federal Medicaid program. Many reproductive rights supporters saw it as an affront to poor women….
But a creeping Washington consensus emerged during the current debate on health care reform that took many by surprise: The Hyde Amendment is now seen as a moderate, “abortion-neutral” position that neither advances nor restricts abortion.
The gradual adoption of the principles of the most significant anti-abortion legislation in history as a moderate compromise constitutes a stunning shift in American political and religious life….
Historic pro-choice religious communities see Hyde differently than the current Inside the Beltway consensus. For example, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Hyde, the… Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice… issued a “call to conscience to end this discriminatory and punitive measure“….

I think Clarkson is absolutely right. In the thick of the battle, we didn’t see this concession. Although I’ve read recent calls from the abortion industry to rescind Hyde, which is reperilized every year, it will be that much more difficult here on out, since so many pro-aborts, most importantly Obama, have labeled it abortion-neutral.
In fact, these concessions might have brought permanent passage of the Hyde Amendment that much closer.
[Photo of Congressman Henry Hyde in 2002 via Pete Souza]

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