House Democrats rejected a bill Wednesday to make the Hyde Amendment permanent law and protect taxpayers from being forced to fund the killing of unborn babies in abortions.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise led a unanimous consent request on the House floor to demand a vote on the pro-life bill, House Resolution 18. However, Democrats who control the House rejected his request in a 218-209 vote.

The Hyde Amendment, which has strong public support, prohibits taxpayer funding for elective abortions in Medicaid and other federal programs. Since 1976, it has saved an estimated 2.4 million babies’ lives, including about 60,000 each year, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

For decades, most Republican and Democrat lawmakers supported the Hyde Amendment as a regular part of the budget. However, Democrats recently abandoned the public on the issue and sided with the billion-dollar abortion industry in calling for forced taxpayer-funded abortions. President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget also specifically excludes the pro-life measure.

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“By putting Hyde on the chopping block, the message Democrats are sending is clear and chilling: That the radical demands of the socialist left drown out common sense, science and the views of most Americans,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy responded Wednesday.

McCarthy and other pro-life lawmakers urged Democrats to support the amendment on the House floor, citing public polling and sharing personal stories in defense of life.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican who is pregnant with her first child, said her pro-life convictions became even stronger after she heard her unborn baby’s heartbeat.

“As a new mom, expecting a child this fall, I will never forget my husband and I hearing my child’s heartbeat for the first time. Truly the greatest miracle of life,” Stefanik said.

Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack, whose mother chose life for her in difficult circumstances, agreed.

“The Hyde Amendment prevents taxpayer dollars from ending the lives of society’s most vulnerable—the unborn,” Cammack said. “For 40-plus years, bipartisan presidents have supported it, but not President Biden.”

Pro-life leaders also criticized pro-abortion Democrats for rejecting such a widely supported, common-sense bill.

The vote Wednesday proves “yet again how out of step” pro-abortion lawmakers are with the American public, the National Right to Life Committee responded on Twitter.

Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, thanked the pro-life lawmakers for continuing their efforts to protect unborn babies and taxpayers.

“The Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayer dollars from going to fund abortion, has enjoyed strong bipartisan support and helped save over two million lives since it was enacted,” McClusky told LifeNews in a statement. “It is not only the right thing to do, but the majority of Americans also support such pro-life protections. We applaud Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Kat Cammack, Rep. Michelle Fischbach and so many others, who are seeking to make these protections permanent.”

Polls consistently show strong public support for the Hyde Amendment. In January, a Marist poll found 58 percent of Americans oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions in the U.S. Additionally, 77 percent oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions in other countries.

Significantly, a 2016 Harvard/Politico poll found that voters who make more than $75,000 were more supportive of forcing taxpayers to fund abortions (45 percent in favor), while those who make $25,000 or less were strongly against it (24 percent in favor). In other words, the people most likely to qualify for a Medicaid-covered, taxpayer-funded abortion are strongly opposed to it.

Research by Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar Dr. Michael New estimates the Hyde Amendment has saved about 2.4 million babies from abortions. Prior to the amendment, in the 1970s, Americans paid for about 300,000 unborn babies’ abortion deaths each year, according to a report from the Family Research Council.

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