Former Representative Henry Hyde died early Thursday at the age of 83. The Illinois Republican served the 6th District of Illinois from 1975 through 2006. He retired at the end of the last term.
During Hyde's second year in Congress, he sponsored a proposal prohibiting federal funding for abortions. The so-called "Hyde Amendment" faced legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was declared constitutional in 1980.
Rep. Hyde was also instrumental in developing the Mexico City Policy, which restricts U.S. funds only to non-governmental organizations that agree not to perform or promote abortions in foreign countries.
Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Council of the Thomas More society, called Rep. Hyde "a giant in the pro-life community."
"Henry Hyde stood for life both "in" and "out" of season, conducting himself with fairness, equanimity, civility and good cheer--but also with unwavering dedication," he said.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, eulogized the lawmaker. "Henry Hyde was the quintessential gentleman and statesman. His profound compassion for the unborn will be remembered throughout history by the legislative protections that bear his name and from his eloquent, persuasive speeches."
President Bush recently awarded Hyde the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can grant an American citizen. On Thursday Bush said of Hyde: "This fine man believed in the power of freedom, and he was a tireless champion of the weak and forgotten. He used his talents to build a more hopeful America and promote a culture of life. Earlier this month, in recognition of his good and purposeful life, I was proud to award Henry Hyde the Medal of Freedom."
The cause of his death was not made known.