This is the tell — this is how we know that Hobby Lobby’s claims that “the government is forcing pro-life business owners to pay for chemical abortions” is a disingenuous, steaming pile of nonsense: Hyde and Stupak.
The Hyde Amendment is a longstanding federal law prohibiting federal funding for abortion. It has been in place since 1976, meaning that for more than three decades it has been illegal for the federal government to fund abortion services.
Most people in the anti-abortion movement, including the rank-and-file and those only peripherally engaged, are familiar with the Hyde Amendment. It is not obscure. Southern Baptist bishop Denny Burk is aware of it. And so are most of the tens of thousands of evangelicals “liking” his column claiming that Obamacare somehow mandates what the Hyde Amendment prohibits.
This is something “pro-lifers” know. Since the Hyde Amendment is regularly renewed as a rider to annual appropriations bills, it has been a longstanding lucrative source of fundraising material for anti-abortion groups. Every year they send out fundraising letters warning that the Hyde Amendment is in peril. And every year their members receive those letters and send in their donations to “defend” the rule.
While the rank-and-file of the anti-abortion movement may not be familiar with this, the leaders of that movement surely are. The fight over the Stupak Amendment was only three years ago, and those leaders were actively engaged in it. They remember because they helped to produce the result of that battle — an executive order explicitly double-plus restating that the Hyde Amendment applies to the Affordable Care Act.
Hyde and Stupak mean, among other things, that it would be expressly illegal for the government to “force pro-life business owners to pay for chemical abortions.”
And now, today, Hobby Lobby is in court arguing against the contraception-coverage mandate of the ACA and claiming that it is really an “abortion mandate.” Evangelicals are being told they must support Hobby Lobby against this “abortion mandate.”
But Hobby Lobby is not arguing that this supposedly onerous mandate should be illegal under the Hyde Amendment or under the executive order that expressly forbids the ACA from anything like an “abortion mandate.” Instead, Hobby Lobby is arguing only that it should be granted a religious exception to the rules requiring gender equality in insurance coverage for employees.
That’s the tell. If their claims about contraception coverage were either true or sincerely held, then they would be arguing that what they call an “abortion mandate” is illegal. They’re not making that argument. That’s the tell.