The Pastoral is the Political: Let’s Stop Hyde-ing

I am a Christian pastor. My faith tells me that I must love my neighbor. Now, when Jesus gave this instruction, he might have been framing it in a new way, but the call to show love and respect to everyone we meet runs deeply throughout most faith traditions. Despite this common thread across religions, humans have struggled to put this into practice.

American history shows us as much.

America’s founders set into motion a great experiment. Decade by decade, new questions have arisen to test the theory that a government of the people, by the people and for the people can lead to life, liberty and happiness. In short, each generation has taken up the challenge of showing love to our neighbors through protecting life, expanding liberty and increasing happiness.

We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut earlier this year. That decision found embedded within our Constitution a fundamental right to privacy. Several years later, the court, drawing on the right to privacy, ruled in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s medical decisions are her own. The American experiment was tested and we rose, once again, to meet the challenge.

Despite this victory for freedom, many have fought against this liberty. Former Republican Rep. Henry Hyde was one such opponent.

Three years after Roe, Hyde proposed an amendment that would prevent Medicaid—our nation’s insurance for low-income people—from covering for abortion care. The Hyde amendment is a temporary rider to the budget that must be passed every year. We will mark the amendment’s 39th anniversary later this month.

Hyde could not attack the rights of rich and middle-class women, so he targeted poor women. “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle-class woman or a poor woman,” he said at the time. “Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the . . . Medicaid bill.”

However we feel about abortion, we can all agree that we should not withhold medical care just become someone is poor.

Decisions about how and under what circumstances to become a parent are sacred and personal. Women have abortions for many reasons. We have no way of fully understanding another’s decision because we do not stand in their shoes. These decisions are best made by a woman in consultation with her family and faith. Rather than shame and judgment, we should make sure that everyone has a safe and compassionate space when facing these important health and life decisions.

The Hyde amendment violates this sacred space for women who are enrolled in Medicaid insurance. That’s why we must repeal it.

Dozens of members of Congress introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act this summer. The EACH Woman Act would repeal the Hyde amendment and remove one of the major hurdles to economic and reproductive justice.

This law respects that each woman has the God-given ability to make her own decisions about pregnancy. God trusts and empowers each of us to make the best decisions that are best for our families and ourselves. The law would remove federal, state and local legislators’ ability to interfere with this by preventing them from outlawing abortion coverage through private insurance.

Removing the Hyde amendment and passing the EACH Woman Act are critical for advancing justice and liberty in America.  We know, too, that there will still be work to do to ensure that each of us has the right to have children, to not have children if that’s what we decide, and to raise the children we have in healthy and supportive environments.

America is at its best when our laws match our compassion. We must show that the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not a luxury of the rich. All women, not just some, deserve the promises of America.

We must love our neighbor.

15 Comments

  • bbailey1956@cableone.net' nmgirl says:

    I had not heard of this act. Thank you for the information.

  • azmrb48@earthlink.net' Michael Bergman says:

    I guess loving your neighbor does not mean loving the unborn child. Is not that child a neighbor? In fact abortion is killing your neighbor. A perfect example of Romans 1:28.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    What would we do without Christians to point out our sins?

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    Can you tell my why so many men are so interested in every aspect of a woman’s pregnancy? I mean, so many men are going out of their way to make access to pre and post natal care an undo burden on the poor. Once a birth occurs, all this concern and love vanishes, why is this?

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    This act was and is proof that a caste system exists in the US.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    They Hyde amendment targets women on Medicaid/Medicare.

  • dkeane123@comcast.net' DKeane123 says:

    Fist – the Bible has no relevance when talking about our legal system and reproductive rights.
    Second – Women are not baby factories for the state (or church, or you). Everyone had a 50/50 chance of being a woman at birth, and because of that roll of the dice and the natural progression of sexuality, it is plainly wrong to force women to continue an unwanted pregnancy that has implications on their life (and health) going forward. Especially when that birth is dictated by men.

  • phillinj@slu.edu' NancyP says:

    “If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”.

    It is very easy for old men to conscript young men to war and young women to forced pregnancy to produce the next generation of disposable cannon fodder and disposable walking wombs. No risk for the old men involved!

  • chris@east20thst.net' cmbennett01 says:

    Religion has always served to bind people together in solidarity and respect. It extends the idea of family to the wider community. This is something that we should not forget. It is true that the dictate to love thy neighbor is a common theme in many religious traditions. The question to ask is who is your neighbor. While some of the more liberal modern denominations would extend the maxim to all mankind, that is hardly the rule. Universalists are still a heretical minority. Religion by nature excludes, much the same as the ideas of nation, tribe or race.
    The maxim also begs the question on what exactly constitutes love. If you love your children you will protect them shield them from harm because they are incapable of looking after themselves. Moral autonomy is often incompatible with religious belief and those who have different ideas are a threat to the community.
    When I saw the headline of the article, the picture that came to mind was that of Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. I think that Mr Hyde is actually a pretty apt metaphor for the problem. Religious belief can foster solidarity and love within a community but there is also a dark, intolerant, authoritarian, and tribal alter ego that hides under the surface.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “In fact abortion is killing your neighbor.” – Michael Bergman

    In fact, killing people on the other side of the world to obtain their natural resources is killing your neighbor. Having an abortion is a medical procedure best left to the choice of the person whose medical condition is affected by the pregnancy.

    How about you apply that neighbor thing to whichever group of people you feel DON’T deserve it and let people make their own medical decisions? Or, you know, mind your own business and let others mind their own.

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    The question becomes more complicated when religion gets involved. Science teaches us how life is the combining of chemicals, and religion adds the concept of the immortal soul. That requires a decision be made, exactly when in the combining of the chemicals does the immortal soul get added by God? The chemicals resist making this decision, but religion demands it be made. Religion understands it is all nonsense unless God adds the immortal soul to the mix at the moment the chemicals first combine and before they start to grow and mature. Any other decision here would not provide for the desired degree of control over people’s sex life, and so would be pointless. One way to look at it is this whole legal mess comes from our concept of separation of church and state.

  • doctorchrysallis@gmail.com' doctorchrysallis says:

    In states that have so-called “castle laws” an individual can shoot to kill an alleged intruder who’s inside or outside (directly on the property of) one’s domicile, with no questions asked, and without first using other means to thwart the alleged intruder. The people who pass and defend these shoot-to-kill castle laws are typically the selfsame people who hypocritically judge and condemn and want to control women who have an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, and who, in consultation with their faith, family, and physician, have decided that termination is the best course of action. These selfsame hypocrites don’t bat an eyelash when it comes to killing in the name of “protecting” one’s own domicile, or “protecting”our way of life in the U.S. (which is often at the expense of the poorest people around the globe).

    I, for one, believe that life begins at conception—but I also believe in protecting the sacred right of every family to make its own decisions on this matter. After all, if I’m not the one who’s going to be there to raise the child in dignity, then what right do I have to impose control, and deny reproductive rights to fellow citizens? In all too many cases, the Michael Bergmans of this world want to talk about protecting the unborn as a way of loving our neighbor, but who have a constricted notion of who counts as neighbor in the first place. In all the too many cases, the people who uphold the so-called “castle laws” (shoot-to-kill, ask questions later), and who take part in shipping our nation’s most vulnerable young people off to war (poor working-class kids who can’t afford college often enlist in the military as a way to “leave home”) to have their limbs blown off, are the selfsame people who support public policies and practices that essentially discard homeless, disabled vets as though they’re empty, useless milk cartons. They’re the selfsame people who don’t support “pro life” policies and practices from “womb to tomb” (such as affordable healthcare, and public schools).

    As one who takes a very dim view of abortion, I’d feel as though I had something in common with so-called “pro-life” advocates were it not for the fact that the things they vote for in other policy areas are–underneath it all– so very, very “pro-death.”

    Finally, the separation of church and state DOES NOT mean that people of faith shouldn’t base policy-making decisions on their faith. They should. As a matter of fact, the baptismal statement in several major faith traditions asks baptismal candidates to promise that they will use the freedom and power God gives them to reduce oppression in all its various forms (oppression of poor, pregnant women is one of them). The very intent of separation of church and state was to ensure that diverse religious traditions would have a equal, fair shake in public discourse and in shaping public policies and practices, without the state dictating which religion gets to speak up, and have final say-so (as was the case with the Church of England).

  • harry.underwood1987@gmail.com' Harry Underwood says:

    “While some of the more liberal modern denominations would extend the maxim to all mankind, that is hardly the rule. Universalists are still a heretical minority. Religion by nature excludes, much the same as the ideas of nation, tribe or race.”

    If “Religion” = “Abrahamic religion”, then yes. You’d still have to talk about those who are not adherents of Abrahamic religions.

  • chris@east20thst.net' cmbennett01 says:

    Yes, monotheists have historically tended to be be more zealous and polytheists are generally more latitudinarian in their beliefs at least within their own community, but you don’t have to look to hard for examples of Hindu nationalists burning mosques and hacking women and children to pieces. The level of intolerance and violence has more to do with historical and social context than doctrine. The seed is present in almost all religion; that is they place divine authority over the well being and dignity of humans. Even those like Buddhism that skirt the line between religion and philosophy do not value human life for it’s own sake and the prohibition on harm is more about avoiding the consequences in the next life than justice in this one.

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