CHICAGO - September 30, 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Hyde Amendment, widely acknowledged as the first legislative victory of the pro-life movement following the 1973 legalization of abortion in America.
The Hyde Amendment is named after its chief sponsor, Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois. The late statesman, known for his eloquent and unwavering defense of life, successfully barred the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion in most circumstances. Though it has taken various forms and has undergone modifications, to date the Hyde Amendment remains intact – although the 2016 Democratic platform includes an explicit call to repeal it.
"The 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment is one that pro-life groups will want to mark publicly for a number of reasons," said Tom Ciesielka, president of TC Public Relations. "First, it is a significant milestone, second it is an opportunity for life advocates to recognize an early success that has endured, and – with its first party-wide challenge by Democrats – the defense of the Hyde Amendment may prove crucial at this moment."
Ciesielka offers the following suggestions for pro-life groups to consider when observing the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment:
- Host an informal Hyde-themed coffee, brunch, or dinner for your board members or core volunteers –take time over a meal to learn the impact of the Hyde Amendment and plan to advocate for its continuation.
- Create a series of social media posts for the anniversary week:
Educate about the Hyde Amendment and its impact (i.e., "Did you know the Hyde Amendment saves 300,000+ babies each year by placing restrictions on federal abortion funding?" or "Celebrate 40 years of the Hyde Amendment: restricting federal funding of abortion").
Cite quotes by Henry Hyde, such as, "This is a debate about our understanding of human dignity, what it means to be a member of the human family, even though tiny, powerless and unwanted." (Find more quotes at www.azquotes.com/author/29083-Henry_Hyde)
- Submit an op-ed piece to a local media outlet marking the anniversary and explaining why your community is better because of it.
- Announce an annual Hyde Life Issues Essay Contest for children – granting awards for a selected piece within each academic range.
- Gather outside an abortion clinic and sing spiritual songs, pray, and read aloud Henry Hyde's Plea to Override President Clinton's Veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban (taken from the Congressional Record, September 19, 1996) – text found here.
- Add Henry Hyde's book, "Catch the Burning Flag: Speeches and Random Observations," to your staff's reading list and consider gifting a copy to a local library.
- Pray for the defeat of any challenge to the Hyde Amendment, including the current Democratic Party platform push to repeal it.
"As pro-life advocates observe this milestone in the movement," added Ciesielka, "It can be a time to look into their own organizational history and the surrounding community to find the landmarks and events worth recognizing in similar ways." Some possible benchmarks might include:
- The founding date of the organization or birthday of its original organizer
- Anniversary of a group success (i.e., closing of a local abortion facility)
- A somber recognition of a particularly heinous incident (i.e., a death via botched abortion) or an annual memorial for all local victims
- Recognition of a particular accomplishment (largest protest, longest vigil, most churches represented)
- Local events, practices, or traditions that celebrate life