Pro-life Democrats rally to nationwide to save Hyde Amendment: ‘The time to push back is now’

Speakers at the Democrats for Life of America’s Save Hyde National Day of Action pose for a group photo in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background on Apr. 10, 2021. From left to right: Catholic University of America Michael New, pro-life activist Purity Thomas, DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day and Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster. | The Christian Post

WASHINGTON — A group of pro-life Democrats and other pro-life activists gathered on Capitol Hill and across the country Saturday to oppose the exclusion of a long-standing ban on federal tax dollars being used to fund most abortions in a recently passed spending bill. 

The Democrats for Life of America hosted a “Save Hyde National Day of Action.” The flagship rally took place in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, with the U.S. Capitol Building in the background.

Satellite events took place in 21 different locations nationwide. Dan Green, DFLA’s national communications director, estimated in an interview with The Christian Post that up to 1,000 people would likely attend the events.

The day of action comes just one month after President Joe Biden signed into law a coronavirus relief package that did not have Hyde Amendment protections guaranteeing that federal tax dollars can’t be used to pay for abortions in most cases.

“If [Democrats] keep going down this road, where they want to fund abortion and ignore the needs of women, … it’s going to be a tough 2022 for Democrats,” DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day told CP. 

The Hyde Amendment has existed in some form since 1976, three years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. Every year, the amendment has been affirmed by Congress as part of a Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The most recent version of the measure included exceptions for Medicaid funds to fund abortions in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. 

Both before and after the 2020 presidential election, top congressional Democrats vowed to do away with the Hyde Amendment. Polling has shown that restrictions on tax dollars being used to fund abortions enjoy wide support among the American public.

Between three and four dozen people gathered in front of the Supreme Court to show support for the measure. 

While Democrats for Life of America hosted the event, the event featured speakers and attendees from all political persuasions and religious backgrounds.

Speakers discussed the Hyde Amendment’s popularity, called on attendees to put pressure on their elected representatives to preserve Hyde and stressed the need to make the pro-life movement more bipartisan.

Terrisa Bukovinac serves as president of the DFLA’s board of directors and is the founder and executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, another group of pro-life Democrats.

Speaking with CP before the event, she declared that she hopes people understand that the “Hyde Amendment is one of the most effective resources we have as Americans to limit the number of abortions that are occurring in our nation.”

“Giving voice to this cause … and really magnifying our grassroots efforts will help bring attention to this issue, will help bring the attention of the senators and the members of Congress on this issue,” Bukovinac said. “So, we’re hoping that it will moderate some of their opinions, that they will see that there’s a nationwide effort to support the Hyde Amendment and that will compel them to protect it.”

Bukovinac criticized the Biden administration’s newly announced commission to study possible reforms to the Supreme Court, including expanding the number of Supreme Court justices and limiting the amount of time justices can serve on the bench.

“We would be very, very concerned that expanding the court would be detrimental to the unborn,” she said. 

While Bukovinac identifies as a liberal and an atheist with no intention of changing parties, she made her discontent with the Biden administration’s abortion policies quite clear.

“The Biden administration is the most extreme, most radical pro-abortion administration in the history of our nation,” the activist said. “Repealing the Hyde Amendment and forcing the taxpayer funding of abortions would increase abortion dramatically in this country at all gestational ages, and that’s absolutely terrifying.”

Bukovinac described the appointment of HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra as “extremely concerning,” citing the possibility that he will “expand fetal tissue research,” which she characterized as one of “the worst aspects of pro-abortion extremism in America today that is going to be expanded and funded by this administration.”

“The time to push back is now,” she argued. “Pro-life Democrats for many years have tried to play nice and have a seat at the table and try to demonstrate that there are pro-life Democrats in the party and that … we do care about other issues. And yet, that strategy has not done very well for us. It has only led us down this horrific path of abortion extremism, and I think the time has come where people are ready to be seen in public and on the streets advocating for this issue.”

Bukovinac predicted that there will be “more and more pro-life Democrats rising up and resisting this pro-abortion influence” in the Democratic Party “because they have gone too far.”

She argued that the Biden administration’s stance on abortion might cause the president and his party to lose support in upcoming elections because Democrats “cannot rely on those votes going forward because of the dynamic of Trump in the last election.”

“Democrats for Life of America did not endorse Joe Biden,” she assured. “I did not vote for Joe Biden. But my sense is that many pro-life Democrats did, and I think that many did it because of their reluctance to support President Trump. And I think … given … a different scenario … in the next four years, I think that the Democrats have a reason to be afraid that pro-life Democrats will rise up and hit them in the … ballot box and in the polls.”

Kristen Day, the president of Democrats for Life of America, speaks at the Save Hyde National Day of Action in Washington, D.C. on Apr. 10, 2021. | The Christian Post

Day agreed with Bukovinac.

“There’s a lot of independents and swing voters that will not vote,” Day stated. “In 2016, a lot of pro-life Democrats did not vote for Hillary Clinton. A lot of pro-life Democrats stayed home that year.”

She suggested that in 2020, “There was so much anti-Trump sentiment that I think that overshadowed the … life issue a little bit because people were just so disgusted with President Trump.”

“So I think there was a shift where people did vote for Biden … within the pro-life Democrat spectrum because they wanted to see … a more compassionate government,” Day contended. 

“I think 2022 will … kind of shift back to that 2016 era where the abortion issue is going to be the No. 1 issue that will push people to vote one way or the other.”

Julia and Maria, two American University students, hold pro-life signs at the Democrats for Life of America’s Save Hyde National Day of Action in Washington, D.C. on Apr. 10, 2021. | The Christian Post

Maria and Julia, two members of American University’s Students for Life chapter, explained that they “wanted to come out in support to make sure that the Hyde Amendment is not repealed.” 

“I think that there’s a big fear from the Democratic Party that the court right now is extremely conservative and that they know that the court has the ability to make abortion policy that could basically take down their whole position,” Maria shared.

She asserted that Democrats want to “attack the court in a way that helps support their policy, but it’s completely unconstitutional.” She believes “no president ever has done something that extreme just to push a policy.”

“I think it’s really unfortunate that [they] fear the pro-life movement advancing itself through the court,” she continued. “They’re attacking the whole Constitution by doing that, and I think … it’s very much out of fear.”

Kathy Kelly, director of the Maryland chapter of the Democrats for Life of America, poses with her pro-life sign at the Save Hyde National Day of Action in Washington, D.C. on Apr. 10, 2021. | The Christian Post

DFLA Maryland State Director Kathy Kelly expressed a desire to see Biden “build on the unity that he promised by respecting our conscience rights [and] by respecting the taxpayers, since there’s wide taxpayer support for maintaining the Hyde Amendment.”

Noting that taxpayer-funded abortions already exist in her state, she illustrated how “injuries to women that late-term abortion has caused in Bethesda and chemical abortion debacles in the state” demonstrate that “we don’t need more abortion and more funding of abortion” at the federal level.

Blayne Clegg, the president of the Catholic University College Republicans, told CP that the Hyde Amendment “has provably and verifiably saved thousands of American lives over the decades.”

“Unfortunately, that bipartisan tradition has been wasted away and … degraded by political opportunists like Joe Biden despite the fact that he voted for it for the first time in 1976 and then overrode President [Gerald] Ford’s veto again and then voted for it again in 1978,” Clegg stated. 

“He has kowtowed and bent the knee to the progressive wing of his party,” he lamented.

Reacting to the Biden administration’s creation of a commission looking at expanding the Supreme Court, which critics refer to as court-packing, Clegg said that “I think it’s really quite remarkable how brazen the Democrat Party can be with ideas like this.”

“I mean, every American high school student who had half an eye open during history class understands that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme was an absolute disaster,” Clegg added. “It was a very clear power grab. We knew it back then and we know it now.”

Other speakers at the event include Michael New, a professor at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, pro-life student activists and Americans United for Life President Catherine Glenn Foster.

In between speeches, Bukovinac led the crowd in chants of “Save Hyde! Save lives!” Additionally, she held up a model of a 21-week-old baby when warning that “babies are going to die if Hyde is repealed, and that means all gestational ages up until the moment of birth.”

DFLA Vice President Xavier Bisits, a native of Australia, spoke about how “Australia and America are very similar in many respects, but there is one big difference.” He said that “in Australia, one in four pregnancies are aborted. And in America, that number’s actually lower, it’s around [18%.]”

“In some of the most pro-life states in this country, it’s 10 to 15%. That is the difference between thousands of deaths or none,” he continued. “A big reason for that is funding. In Australia, we have fully funded abortion by the federal and state government.”

He warned that federally funding abortions in the U.S. would dramatically increase the number of abortions across the country.

Liz Matory, the vice president of government relations at the nonprofit pro-life organization And Then There Were None, warned that the absence of Hyde Amendment protections would lead to a “mass genocide, particularly in reference to the black and brown community here in the United States and, quite frankly, the world.”

“Everyone agrees — pro-life researchers, pro-choice researchers — when you start funding abortion with taxpayer dollars, abortion rates go up. That is irrefutable,” New said.

He cited research from the pro-abortion organization Guttmacher Institute, which used to serve as the research arm of Planned Parenthood, finding that when “you cut off taxpayer funding for abortion, abortion rates go down, lives are saved.”

New also mentioned a study from The Center for Reproductive Rights, another pro-abortion rights organization, concluding that “the Hyde Amendment had saved over 1 million lives since 1976.”

In his capacity as a scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, New discovered that the Hyde Amendment had saved “over 2.4 million lives since 1976 and continues to save over 60,000 lives every year.”

Kelly said that in Maryland, the state already pays for Medicaid abortions through state taxes.

“Since we Marylanders are neither stupid nor pushovers, we’re not going to roll over and cheerfully finance the killing of the children we seek to save and the medical violence against the women who are already suffering in Maryland from terrible injuries and chemical abortion debacles,” Kelly said. 

“Do we want to add federal funding of abortion to this existing pro-abortion mess in Maryland?” 

As the event came to a close, Bukovinac pushed back on the idea that pro-life Democrats should abandon the party in favor of the Republican Party, which a handful of speakers suggested.

“The answer is not to leave,” Bukovinac said. “The answer is to stand up and be seen and be empowered by my voice and the voices of so many diverse people here and in America today demonstrating in over 21 locations across the country.”

Democrats for Life of America reached out to former President Jimmy Carter as part of its effort to save the Hyde Amendment.

Green, the DFLA communications director, told CP that the organization’s leaders took a pilgrimage to the Carters’ hometown of Plains, Georgia and spoke with Carter at his church. 

“He is a pro-life Democrat and in 2004, he signed a letter with us to the Democratic National Convention saying that … the Democratic Party needs to moderate its position on abortion,” Green explained. “So he’s helped us with things before. So, we’re trying to get his help on those, and just to help us speak with leaders of the DNC, and the leaders of the party and just kind of be a voice for us.”

4 things to know about the border crisis

Central American asylum seekers arrive to a bus station after being released by U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 26, 2021, in Brownsville, Texas. U.S. immigration authorities are now releasing many asylum seekers after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border and are taken into custody. The immigrants are then free to travel to destinations throughout the U.S. while awaiting asylum hearings. | John Moore/Getty Images

Nearly three months into President Joe Biden’s first term in office, the southern border continues to experience a surge of migrants seeking entry into the United States as his administration works to undo his predecessor’s policies meant to curb illegal immigration.

After taking office, Biden rescinded the national emergency at the border declared by former President Donald Trump, reversed the Migrant Protection Protocol requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims were adjudicated, and halted construction of the border wall. These decisions resulted in the massive increase of encounters between border enforcement officials and illegal immigrants, reaching 101,028 in February 2021 and 172,331 in March.

By contrast, in the first four months of fiscal year 2021, the number of encounters hovered between 71,945 and 78,444. In February and March of 2020, the number of encounters was 36,687 and 34,460.

As the border crisis has become what some politicians have described as a humanitarian catastrophe — due to massive overcrowding and alleged abuse at detention facilities — here are four things you need to know about the issue, including the Biden administration’s plans to restart construction on parts of the border wall and reports that terrorists have used the crisis as an opportunity to enter the country. 

MLB accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for moving All-Star Game out of Atlanta over new voting law

A general view of Truist Park as the National Anthem is performed with a flyover prior to an MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Truist Park on April 9, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. | Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has faced harsh criticism from both conservatives and Atlanta business owners after it decided to move its 2021 All-Star Game to Denver to protest a new Georgia voting law.

The MLB’s move comes as part of the backlash against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law late last month. While Democrats argue that the legislation constitutes an example of voter suppression, Republicans paint the measure as necessary to protect against voter fraud. The law strengthens voter identification requirements for mail-in ballots while expanding early voting in most counties.  

Georgia Business leader Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of Job Creators Network, lamented the severity in which already struggling businesses will be harmed further by the MLB’s decision.

“They are barely making it out of the coast crisis out of the pandemic and now they’re faced under the Biden administration with potentially higher taxes, a higher minimum wage … and now this,” Ortiz said of minority business owners on “Fox & Friends” earlier this week. 

“I mean,  … this is going to cost upwards of $100 million of economic damages and impact to the state. These small business owners especially in Cobb … a lot of these are minority-owned businesses that were really looking forward and desperately needed this kind of revenue instream,” he added. 

The MLB, along with Georgia-based corporations Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have sympathized with the Democrats’ point of view on the law. Appearing on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Tuesday, senior political analyst Brit Hume suggested that moving the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver in the name of standing up for civil rights was counterintuitive. 

“This is a great benefit, this game, to the economy … of the host city,” he explained. “Atlanta is more than half people of color” while “Denver is under 10% black.” 

“So, if you’re striking a blow for civil rights, you probably wouldn’t want to pull out of Atlanta?” Carlson asked. “You’re striking a blow for that community,” Hume responded.

Wes Cantrell, a Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives, was one of several conservatives to point out that even with the passage of the Election Integrity Act, Georgia’s voting laws are still less strict than those of overwhelmingly Democratic states. Cantrell took to Facebook to compare Georgia’s voting laws with laws in New York, home to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden, both of whom have criticized the bill.

Cantrell sarcastically announced his intention to file legislation called “The President Joe Biden Jim Crow on Steroids Voting Act” that would “make Georgia’s voting laws identical to those of (Biden’s) home state of Delaware.” … “Instead of having up to 19 days of early voting in Georgia, we will have ZERO days of early voting JUST LIKE DELAWARE!” he wrote.

“Instead of having no excuse absentee voting in Georgia, you will have to have the excuse of being sick or disabled to vote absentee JUST LIKE DELAWARE! Instead of having plenty of secure drop boxes in Georgia, there will be no drop boxes JUST LIKE DELAWARE!” he continued.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Delaware does not have early voting. However, a recently passed law slated to go into effect in 2022 will allow early voting at least 10 days before an election. 

Additionally, Cantrell sarcastically proposed the introduction of “The Senator Chuck Schumer ‘Racist Voter Suppression’ Voting Act,” reflecting comments the Senate Majority Leader made about the law. This proposal would work to “make Georgia’s voting laws just like New York’s.” 

“Instead of up to 19 days of early voting, we’ll only have 9 days of early voting JUST LIKE NEW YORK! Instead of no excuse absentee voting, we will now require an excuse for you to vote absentee JUST LIKE NEW YORK!”

Other conservatives have slammed the MLB for swiftly pulling the All-Star Game out of Georgia while continuing to do business with oppressive regimes around the world. In a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., slammed the decision to relocate the All-Star Game out of Atlanta as “one that reeks of hypocrisy.”

“Will Major League Baseball now end its engagement with nations that do not hold elections at all like China and Cuba? Will you end your lucrative financial relationship with Tencent, a company with deep ties to the Communist Party and actively helps the Chinese Government hunt down and silence political dissidents?” he asked.

“Since Major League Baseball now appears eager to use its ‘platform’ to demonstrate its ‘unwavering support’ for fundamental human rights, will you cease your relationship with the Chinese Government, which at this very moment is committing genocide against the Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)?” 

Rubio stressed that he was “under no expectation any of this will happen” because while “taking the All-Star Game out of Georgia is an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout,” “speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party would involve a significant loss of revenue and being closed out of a lucrative market.”

Florida’s other senator, Republican Rick Scott, offered a similar analysis in a tweet last Friday: “@MLB played games in Cuba, where the brutal Castro Regime murders its own citizens and denies them basic human rights like freedom of speech and free elections. Now these hypocrites are bowing to the woke liberal mob that upset over common-sense election reforms.”  

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., declared: “Your sports league might be a little too woke if it will freely do business with Communists in China and Cuba, but boycotts a US state that wants people to show an ID to vote.” 

Alabama allows voters to opt out of ‘So Help Me God’ oath on voter registration form

A “vote here” sign stands in front of the polling place at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina, February 20, 2016. | Reuters/Joshua Roberts

In response to a lawsuit brought by a leading atheist organization, Alabama has decided to allow residents registering to vote to opt out of signing an oath that includes the phrase “So Help Me God.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an outspoken secular group that advocates for a strict separation of church and state, filed a lawsuit against Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, last September. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the state’s mail-in voter registration form, which required applicants to sign a declaration beginning with “I solemnly swear or affirm” and concluding with “So help me God.”

FFRF lawyers believed that this provision violated the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. One of the plaintiffs, atheist Randall Crugan, sought to register to vote in Alabama in November 2019 but did not want to sign the declaration that concluded with “so help me God.”

He was told that “there is no legal mechanism to register to vote in [Alabama] without signing the oath as it is stated” and “If you cross out a portion, the board of registrars in your county will reject the application and ask you to resubmit.” Because he refused to sign the declaration, Crugan was unable to vote in the 2020 election.

In the wake of the lawsuit, the Secretary of State’s office has revised the voter registration form. While it still includes the oath, nonbelievers now have the option to check off a box stating: “Because of a sincerely held belief, I decline to include the final four words of the oath above.”

“Following the introduction of this lawsuit, our office took action to see that an option was provided to voters to either swear a religious oath or opt out when registering to vote,” Merrill said in a statement. “While the language ‘so help me God’ has been included on voter registration applications since well before I took office, this issue was just brought to light, and we remain willing to accommodate all voters of Alabama. All registration applications, online or on paper, were updated on March 8, 2021, to include the option to opt out, if interested.”

In a press release Wednesday, the FFRF and the plaintiffs cheered the “huge constitutional victory for secular voters in Alabama.” According to FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, “Millions of Alabamians were being asked to swear a religious oath as a fait accompli. We warmly thank the plaintiffs, without whom we could not have put an end to this unconstitutional mindgame.”

“Because of this suit, I will finally be able to register to vote in Alabama,” Cragun said. “It is disappointing that the state prevented me from voting in the 2020 elections, but I am looking forward to participating in the future, and I now have a better appreciation of the value my voice and other individual voices contribute to shaping the state.”

The other plaintiffs echoed Cragun’s gratitude. Co-plaintiff Robert Corker proclaimed that he was “proud to have been a part of this effort to secularize voting in the state of Alabama,” adding, “I relish more opportunities to foster inclusiveness for nonbelievers in this state.”

Co-plaintiffs Chris Nelson and Heather Coleman, a married couple, also expressed gratitude “that the state has — at least, begrudgingly — made some concessions to support state-church separation,” promising that “freethinkers in Alabama will continue to push for these reforms.”

As a result of Alabama’s amendment to the voter registration form, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has dropped its lawsuit challenging “the uniquely Alabamian mandatory religious voter registration oath.” Even before the voter registration applications were updated, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office began implementing changes to address FFRF’s concerns.

In November, the office adopted a new rule allowing applicants to strike out the phrase “so help me God” when filling out the voter registration form. The rule directed the Board of Registrars to accept as valid voter registration forms with the phrase “so help me God” crossed out.

Nearly a year before filing the lawsuit, FFRF sent a letter to Secretary Merrill, asking him to “drop the religious oath altogether,” describing it as “unnecessary and irrelevant to voter registration.” According to the letter, “Multiple Alabama residents have contacted us over the past decade” to complain about the religious oath.