Remembering Henry Hyde

The Honorable Henry Hyde (R-Illinois) died yesterday morning at the age of 83, having spent 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. National Review Online memorializes him here. Perhaps remembered most for his “Hyde Amendment,” he was instrumental in banning the public funding of abortions through Medicaid and is regarded as a hero by those who morally object to paying for abortion through their taxes. He also fought Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act” at the federal level.

During his years in public life, Henry Hyde was a profile in courage. He has been quoted as saying, “People want to do what’s right, but unfortunately they would rather be perceived as doing right than as actually doing what’s right.”

“Henry was a student of American history, a constitutional scholar, a thoughtful legislator and a passionate orator,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The National Review’s memorial concludes:

“During the height of the [President Clinton] impeachment controversy, Rep. Maxine Waters, a left-wing Democrat, tried to scold Hyde: “˜History will not be kind to you.’

“She was, mercifully, wrong. History will remember Henry Hyde for precisely what he was: One of the great congressmen of his generation “” or any generation.

“Earlier this month, Congressman Hyde was honored at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom”¦.President Bush said of Hyde: “˜He used his persuasive powers for noble causes. He stood for a strong and purposeful America “” confident in freedom’s advance, and firm in freedom’s defense. He stood for limited, accountable government, and the equality of every person before the law. He was a gallant champion of the weak and forgotten, and a fearless defender of life in all its seasons. Henry Hyde spoke of controversial matters with intellectual honesty and without rancor.'”

The federal government paid for 300,000 abortions the year before the Hyde Amendment first passed in 1976. Say the editors of the National Review, “The National Right to Life Committee has estimated, conservatively, that the Hyde Amendment has prevented at least one million abortions. That’s one million Americans who are alive today because of Henry Hyde.”

Henry Hyde was a great American and a great gentleman. By his peers in Congress and by those of us who follow Congressional politics, he will be missed.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Development Coordinator at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank.