The Hyde Amendment, named after Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) who sponsored it, passed Congress in 1976 several years after the Supreme Court ruled that a woman had a legal right to an abortion. The policy prohibited taxpayer dollars – namely through federal programs for low-income women like Medicaid – from subsidizing abortions.
Current exceptions to the prohibition are for abortions performed in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.
"As a rider, it is not a permanent law, but it has been passed with bipartisan support in every federal funding bill since 1976," Genevieve Plaster of the Charlotte Lozier Institute noted in her written testimony to Congress on Sept. 23.
To see how many abortions the policy has prevented, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, compiled over 20 different studies on how limiting abortion subsidies affects the overall number of abortions.
The conclusion they came to was that, because of Hyde's prohibition on Medicaid reimbursements of elective abortions, over two million pregnancies are estimated to have instead been carried to term since 1976, and over 60,000 a year. One in nine pregnancies of women on Medicaid would have ended in abortions if not for Hyde, the report claimed.
However, the policy has been under fire recently as the Democratic Party platform called for its repeal over the summer. The party's presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has supported its repeal, but vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine stated publicly that he favored the policy, after the Clinton campaign had said he opposed it. A Clinton spokesperson said that he still supported the candidate's "agenda" which included repealing the amendment.