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WASHINGTON, D.C., September 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two million people are alive today, thanks to a 40-year-old law that protects U.S. taxpayers from being compelled to pay for abortions for most low-income women.

That fact came to light during a two-hour-long hearing on Capitol Hill today dedicated to the Hyde Amendment and to legislation that would punish abortionists if they allowed babies born during botched abortions to die without medical treatment.

The amendment – which bars Medicaid from funding abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life – is not a single law but a provision first introduced to an appropriations bill in 1976 by Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde and renewed each year since.

“The Hyde Amendment has saved more than two million lives since 1976,” Genevieve Plaster, a senior policy analyst at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told the hearing on Friday morning. 

“Two million Americans – that’s approximately the entire population of the city of Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S.,” she said. “Two million Americans is the entire population of the state of New Mexico. Two million Americans is the sum of the entire combined populations of Rhode Island and Delaware.”

Ave Maria University professor Dr. Michael New crunched federal data to find that approximately one in every nine babies born to mothers on Medicaid owe their lives to the pro-life measure.

A 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion-on-demand, agreed that the “best studies…found that 18-37 percent of pregnancies that would have ended in Medicaid-funded abortion were carried to term when funding was no longer available.”

While there is little disagreement about the facts, the two sides remain strongly divided over the effects of the amendment. Testifying in opposition, Kierra Johnson of United for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE) called the fact that taxpayers do not underwrite abortion-on-demand “one of our nation’s most harmful and shameful policies,” which “interferes with [women’s] personal decision about whether to end a pregnancy.”

“Safe, quality abortion services should be available regardless of a woman’s ability to pay,” she said. “A right without access isn’t a right at all.”

Her words echo those of the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who told Planned Parenthood in January, “Any right that requires you to take measures to access it, is no right at all.”

Both Clinton and the Democratic Party’s platform call for U.S. taxpayer-funded abortion at home and globally by rolling back the Hyde Amendment and the Helms Amendment, a position opposed by 62 percent of the American people.

Supporters are preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which first came into law when Congress overrode President Gerald Ford’s veto of an appropriations bill (on fiscal grounds) on September 30, 1976, and went into effect the following August with President Jimmy Carter’s support