By John-Henry Westen

  WASHINGTON, October 31, 2007 ( – Former Congressman Henry Hyde is an American statesman of great renown.  In addition to chairing the House Judiciary Committee, Hyde was President of the Clinton impeachment trial, a high-level participant in the response to the 9-11 attacks, and a major player in the worldwide response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.  However, more than anything else Henry Hyde is known for his stalwart defense of the right to life of unborn children.

  In announcing Hyde as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to be awarded November 5, President George Bush noted his pro-life stance first.  “Henry J. Hyde has served America with distinction. During his career in the House of Representatives, he was a powerful defender of life and a leading advocate for a strong national defense and for freedom around the world,” said the announcement.

  Hyde was the first person to win a political victory for the pro-life cause since Roe vs. Wade, with his Hyde Amendment in 1976 banning public spending on abortions.

  While in public office, Hyde was often described as “U.S. Roman Catholicism’s most distinguished laymen.”

  Hyde noted with dismay the disastrous effects of the repeated failure of the Catholic hierarchy to remain strong on the abortion issue when dealing with politicians.  In 1994 while the US Bishops were debating whether or not to give communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Hyde told the Chicago Sun Times, “I am greatly disappointed with the failure of much of the church hierarchy to take an unequivocal stand on abortion.”

  Speaking of the tendency to equate issues such as poverty and healthcare and abortion, Hyde said it provides, “people like Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and John Kerry the cover they seek to maintain their Catholic affiliation and at the same time pander to Planned Parenthood.”

“If the church doesn’t come out strong and condemn those who want to receive Holy Communion while not in the state of sanctifying grace, then the church has lost its moral authority, and that is tragic,” he concluded.

  See the Presidential announcement of the Medal of Freedom recipients here:

  See related coverage:

  Imprisoned Cuban Pro-Life Activist Wins US Presidential Medal of Freedom