Interview with Henry Hyde

Comments from Marc: I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the Honorable Henry Hyde during his recent trip to Oregon sponsored by Oregon Right to Life. I don't say "Honorable" only out of respect for the office; I say it because Congressman Hyde had an air of respectability that took me by surprise. I came away from this experience believing that this man is truly a servant of the people, whereas most politicians seem to be servants of their own lust for power. We spoke about abortion and what it means to this country and more importantly to the future of our liberty. Congressman Hyde gives us an inside view of the political front while logically demonstrating the absurdity of the current abortion laws in this country.


Marc: Congressman Hyde, we often hear the phrase that abortion is a constitutional right in this country. I'd like to get your thoughts on what you think our Founding Fathers, men like Jefferson and Adams, would think about this issue.

Hyde: Well, I think it's clear that they had no such constitutional right in mind, or they would've specified that. The Roe vs. Wade was a normal aberrational decision - finding a right to abortion in a penumbra, whatever that means - and, by a seven-to-two decision, establishing a constitutional right nobody saw for two hundred years, is an incredible exercise, as Justice White said, of raw judicial power. But, as Dred Scott was a terrible decision, and happily nobody felt that required us to follow Dred Scott forever, Roe vs. Wade should be reversed, and I live for the day that it is.

Marc: What long-term effects do you feel abortion has had on this nation's social structure, or will have in the future if it continues?

Hyde: I think very clearly abortion has devalued human life. We see now the effects of the slippery slope that many of us predicted years ago. When you cheapen life, when you make it expendable at the very beginning, there's no logical reason why you shouldn't cheapen life at any time during the continuum until death.

And now, with Oregon's assisted suicide law, we're seeing life relegated to something other than the fundamental right that it is set out in our country's birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence. Right to life is the first of the inalienable rights that is an endowment from our Creator. So we have devalued life; we have emphasized the secular, humanist notion that man is a tool-making animal, a unit of production and consumption, and not possessed of an immortal soul and an eternal destiny. We've lost a great deal, and we're paying a fearful price for that.

Marc: I've noticed that we appear to have two entrenched camps in this society, and they both seem to be immovable in their position. We have one that feels abortion is an individual liberty, in which if it's taken away it'll completely strip women of their hard-won freedoms. The other feels that abortion is actually organized killing, no less serious than the Nazi Holocaust with similar, or actually much greater, casualties. How do you see this conflict developing in the future, and what kind of political solution do you see, if any?

Hyde: Well, I had hoped, and I still hope, that through medical technology and discoveries and development, the humanity of the unborn would become increasingly clear.

Up until 1973 there was no constitutional right to abortion, and these people that think you're stripping something away from women, it's something they never had until seven-to-two decision called Roe vs. Wade, which many scholars have said was not a constitutional decision but a set of hospital guidelines - that was the opinion of Archibald Cox, and I agree with him.

I do not see the sanctity of life ethic being respected. I see us paying a fearful price, because there are about a million and a half abortions every year. We've had that many since 1973, and that's an educated guess. But that is about 35 million children that have been destroyed, exterminated in the womb. That's a terrible loss of human life, and something that this society should not tolerate. You measure a society's ascent from barbarism by how it treats the weak and the defenseless and the unwanted, and we have a lot to answer for in that regard.

Marc: Can our nation, who was basically built on precepts of freedom, survive if we don't address this issue?

Hyde: Well, I think it can't be avoided. There were those who felt that the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade ended the dispute; it only started the dispute, so to speak, because it has accelerated every year.

We're talking about life and death. We're talking about a question of justice, not imposing morality on somebody else. But all our laws have moral content. But justice - whether anybody has the right to take somebody's very life away when they didn't give that life - that's what we're talking about - and we've got to solve that problem, and resolve it in favor of life.

Marc: There are many Americans, myself included, who see the reality of abortion, see what it is, a great injustice. What would you recommend to us, the general citizens? What's the most effective thing that we can do to help you guys out?

Hyde: I think people should study the literature on the subject, read books like The Human Life Review. I'd join the "National Right to Life" and other pro-life organizations. Read their newsletter, attend their meetings, and be an evangelist for the unborn. I think that's a very noble, worthwhile undertaking.

Marc: Thank you very much.

Hyde: You bet!

(Marc Salvatore interviews Congressman Henry Hyde on November 6th, 1999, Send comments to

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