Biden’s Assault on the Hyde Amendment

I wasn’t going to belabor the Joe Biden issue beyond my previous post—and guest essay in Newsday—regarding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) commissioning a document on the Eucharist amid the pro-abortion President’s very public Catholicism and reception of the sacraments.

But now the Biden administration is acting on the President’s campaign promise to do away with the Hyde Amendment—which, since 1976, has prohibited (with some exceptions) federal funding for abortions.  

Our Catholic president intends to force American taxpayers to be involved in providing abortions by paying for them. 

So I have a question for my fellow Catholics who have been publicly—in some cases harshly—criticizing the bishops for even considering whether support for the grave moral evil of abortion renders a Catholic politician unworthy to receive the body and blood of Christ. (And let’s be clear: “worthy” does not mean “sinless,” which would preclude us all. It means repentant — as opposed to obstinately persisting in grave sin.)

Are you equally offended by President Biden’s determination to force all of us—you, me, all our fellow Catholics and millions of pro-life Americans—to actually participate in the killing of unborn children through our tax dollars?

If it is wrong, in your view, for bishops to deny Communion to Mr. Biden—and again, whatever recommendations might come from a USCCB document, such denial may only come from his diocesan bishop, or the bishop of a diocese where he presents himself for Communion—is it not an even greater wrong for this Catholic to use his presidential authority to force his fellow Catholics to take part in this grave moral evil?

I wrote last week that a bishop’s denial of the Eucharist to a public figure is done for the purpose of saving souls—not only the soul of that public figure, but also the souls of others whom he or she might lead into grave sin. So what about a Catholic figure who doesn’t just lead others into committing a grave moral evil, he forces us into it?   

This is even more scandalous given that Joe Biden, throughout his 36 years in the U.S. Senate and even as Vice President, always supported the Hyde Amendment. He even reiterated that support in the early stages of his 2019 presidential campaign—before immediately caving under an onslaught of pro-abortion criticism. He suddenly discovered that abortion is a “right” which cannot be “dependent on someone’s zip code” (by which he meant their income level).

There are two problems with this formulation: first, Biden’s presumption that just because there is a legal “right” to something, the government must fund it for those who cannot afford it.

While Joe Biden and many others may not like it, there is a right to gun ownership in America—a right that is actually in the Constitution, unlike the “right” to abortion. Does that mean the government should be buying a gun for every American who cannot afford one?

Second, Joe Biden’s current assertion of a “right” to abortion directly contradicts his having previously, and repeatedly, stated the exact opposite:

“I do not view abortion as a choice and a right,” he said in 2006, shortly before launching another of his presidential campaigns. But that long-held view changed in 2019, when he saw his last chance for the presidency being jeopardized by the pro-abortion extremists who have completely taken over the Democratic Party.

Critics of the bishops cite an individual’s right of conscience in making “moral decisions.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1782) Of course, the very next section of the Catechism requires a conscience to be informed by enlightened moral judgement. But let’s put aside for now whether Mr. Biden’s promotion of unrestricted abortion can possibly meet that requirement.  

Let’s also leave aside whether Joe Biden’s sudden discovery, in the heat of a presidential campaign, of a “right” to taxpayer funded abortions that he never recognized before, is a matter of conscience or political expedience.

What of his violation of our right of conscience? The Catechism emphasizes that a person “must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.” Yet President Biden wants to use the coercive powers of government to force all of us who are pro-life to act contrary to our consciences by facilitating abortions.

As I wrote last week, I will not lobby the bishops to withhold the Eucharist from anyone. That judgement is entrusted by God to them, not to me; and frankly, I have all I can do to try to prepare myself to worthily receive the body and blood of Jesus, without presuming to judge the worthiness of others.

But I will prayerfully support any bishop who, acting in his role as a shepherd of souls, determines that he must withhold the Eucharist from public figures who persist in promoting a grave moral evil, and leading—or forcing—others into that same evil.

That is what is at issue with pro-abortion Catholic President Joe Biden.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

7 thoughts on “Biden’s Assault on the Hyde Amendment

  1. How could anyone with a brain have voted for Biden? Regardless of any feelings about Trump or any of his other contenders for elective office, they had to see from his public record that he has not felt obliged to support platforms and propaganda he used to get elected.

    I can’t help but wonder about the outcome if registered voters who share our views on abortion, the Hyde Amendment, funding Plant Parenthood, etc. had declined to vote for individuals like Biden while salving their conscience by not voting for Trump or what they consider his ilk. By voting FOR candidates like Biden, they perpetuate the existence of spineless hacks and “issues be damned” politicians. I am not suggesting that we resort to becoming single issue voters.

    No offense, but all this dialogue about Bishops and their fraternal organizations is actually criticism pointed at them rather than the politicians. I recognize that it is not the intention of your blog to address politics. I do feel that clergy, at all levels, should concentrate more on the saving of souls by preaching gospel like messages rather than applying so much of their time and resources on material concerns. Let’s all remember that Jesus didn’t study theology, He lived it. He didn’t study Latin, he spoke in the language of His followers. Except for appointing Peter, He didn’t prescribe an organizational structure. He used the available implements, no precious metal containers, He wore common garments, not distinguishing uniforms. He washed His Apostles’ feet, He didn’t have them kiss His ring. He chased the money lenders from the house of worship and used the image on the coin of tribute to distinguish the demands of man from those of God. He met and ate with people from all walks of life. He didn’t condemn the sinful but He chastised the Pharisees. He spoke with females, lepers, Rabbis and officials. He advocated the actions of the Good Samaritan in contrast to those of other contemporaries, like the passing priest.

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  2. Thank you, John, I greatly appreciate your thoughts on this. A few of my own in response:
    • Yes, you are right about those who simply could not bring themselves to vote for Donald Trump. Did that mean they HAD to vote for Joe Biden? No. While the bishops remind us every year at election time of our duty as Catholic citizens to vote, they are talking about not declining to vote out of laziness or some other self-serving reason. That does not mean we are morally obliged to choose a candidate in EVERY contest. Sometimes, NOT casting a vote in a specific contest–or casting a write-in if we find no candidate on the ballot morally acceptable–can be the morally right thing to do. Sometimes, we will judge that voting for a “lesser-of-evils,” or a candidate who is “better” but less than ideal, is the right thing to do. At other times, however, if we judge no candidate morally acceptable, we should not feel obliged to vote for any of them. That is a personal judgement we all have to make, within our obligation as Catholic citizens.
    • I agree with you on criticisms focused on the bishops rather than the politicians. My purpose in writing about this was to emphasize that the bishops’ role as spiritual shepherds, especially in the drastic action of withholding the Eucharist, is NOT employed to achieve political or legislative ends, no matter how morally compelling. That that is OUR job, as lay Catholics called by Vatican II to bring Gospel teachings to bear on “the earthly city.” When the bishops take such action, it is for the salvation of souls; it should neither be misrepresented nor demanded as a political act.

    Several points about your well-written conclusion, ostensibly contrasting the witness of Christ with the Church today.
    • While it is true that “except for appointing Peter,” Christ “didn’t prescribe an organizational structure,” the fact is He DID appoint Peter, clearly indicating the need for some structural authority; and the growth of the hierarchy in the ages since–as the Church grew from small groups in localized areas, to a worldwide religion of more than billion souls–is arguably–as we Catholics believe–the result of divine revelation given Church leaders by the Holy Spirit.
    • This is not to deny that there have been terrible abuses, moral and even criminal–as witness the indictments just days ago involving a Vatican financial scandal–not the first one, even in our lifetime. And I sympathize with your concerns about lavish possessions, believing that the Church has always been strongest when she is poor. At the same time, stereotypes about the “wealthy” Catholic Church notwithstanding, much of the Church’s “wealth” derives from and is devoted to our commitment to helping people in need (the Church is surely, by far, the world’s largest non-governmental provider of health care, charitable services, emergency relief, education, etc., etc.)
    • While Jesus’ mercy toward sinners was paramount, and needs always to be emphasized (we ALL depend on it for our own salvation), He did also instruct sinners, as the woman being stoned, to “sin no more.” And His throwing the money changers out of the temple seems to me to have been a condemnation (“You have made My father’s house a den of thieves.”) His mercy and forgiveness require our penitence, and our intention to at least try–however much we may fail–to “sin no more.”
    • While I appreciate your citing His simple, common approach, in His dress, His comportment, His use of “available implements” rather than “precious metal containers,” I am concerned that in our efforts toward greater humility in the Church, we may have inadvertently undermined the reverence due the Mass, the sacraments, etc.–a reverence that is also vital to our humility before God. For example, growing up and well into adulthood I fully accepted changes designed to make the Eucharist more “accessible” — virtually no pre-fasting period, receiving standing on line rather than kneeling at the altar, no emphasis on the sacrament of Penance beforehand. But I can’t help but wonder now whether these well-intentioned changes, designed to bring more people to Communion, may have inadvertently contributed to the scandalous lack of reverence, respect, and even awareness of the Eucharist as the sacred body and blood of Jesus.
    Thank you, John, you’ve offered much food for thought.

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  3. Rick, in your comments to John, who has made some very good points, what resonates for me most is your last paragraph. Things like the ease of receiving and lack of need for repentance via Reconciliation seems to have spilled over into careless voting.
    Again I fault bishops as they have written guidelines for voting for a couple of decades now which are ponderous snd totally confusing to the average person trying to discern from them. They start out strongly condemning abortion but then open the door to all sorts of exceptions. As a result I’ve personally heard other bishops, priests, sisters, deacons say “it’s okay to vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as you’re not voting for them in support of that abortion position of theirs.”
    I think, with only a dash of critical thinking, it is obvious that there is no difference in the effects of that vote. Either way the voter is supporting the pro-abortionist’s position yet the Church considers that “remote cooperation” for abortion. The result of this “remoteness” is that millions of practicing Catholics votes elect these politicians who then graduate to the point we are at now – having us support abortion with our taxes! So, once again, I conclude as Walt Kelly’s Pogo said,“we have met the enemy – they are us”.

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    1. Thank you, Walter. Like John, I do not advocate “single issue voting,” but I do recognize the need to prioritize issues, and I believe that certain injustices are so morally compelling as to transcend reduction to a “single issue.” Unspeakable injustices against millions of innocent people–slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries, the mass killing of innocent unborn children in our own time–cry out for immediate justice, and thus demand of us special attention above and beyond a range of “other issues.” I too make judgements in every election, and I do not vote for candidates “just” because they oppose abortion. For example, I would not have voted for David Duke, who opposed abortion but was a Klansman. But just as I would disqualify someone for racist views–regardless of whether I liked them on “other issues” –I also consider abortion to be a “disqualifying issue.” A pro-life friend whose insights I greatly value remarked to me years ago that he tries to examine EVERY issue in light of its impact on the sanctity of life. Since then, I’ve always tried to do the same–and of course, many issues call for prudential judgements on our part in discerning which policies best serve to protect and enhance human life. But I am hard-pressed to see how any candidate who promotes the legalized, mass killing of innocent children in the womb can possibly be committed to affirming and protecting life anywhere on the spectrum–especially among other vulnerable populations.

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  4. Troubling times, most certainly. But when has anyone lived in times without troubles. I appreciate the logic of this post and plan to share it with others in my anti-abortion group that stands out in front of planned parenthood once a week. They, as I, will certainly appreciate the clear thinking. Thank you Rick! God Bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much–and God bless YOU, and all those in your group who stand courageously in witness to life outside planned parenthood.

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  5. Rick, concerning “single issues” I do agree that we must pay attention to all injustice and agree further that the magnitude of abortion makes it of preeminent importance.

    “Coincidentally”, I viewed the Formed reflection on today’s reading from Exodus and was surprised by the connection to today’s abortion culture.
    The new Pharaoh orders Hebrew boys to be thrown into the Nile. He fears Israelites growing numbers and by this means intends to control the population. In the continuing story the Nile will soon flow with blood and reek havoc upon Egypt. What river of blood awaits us if we as a Church do not give this crisis our utmost attention?

    https://watch.formed.org/videos/daily-reflections-july-12-2021

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