Congressman Henry J. Hyde of Illinois is dead. The man who became famous as a pro-life leader for his sponsorship of the 1976 Hyde Amendment that cut off most federal funding of abortions, died at 2:30 a.m. Thursday after suffering ill health for the past year.
R.I.P. Henry Hyde
Henry composed the mantra that mesmerized the movement early on when he told a full house at the Indian Hills Country Club in the early l980’s:
When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine.
But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world, but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world, and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement.
They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”
Not Just a Hero, But a Friend
Henry was not only a major hero of the pro-life movement, a great speaker, a great statesman, a towering giant among national leaders, but a personal friend who flew into Chicago in 1998 to appear at the NOW v. Scheidler trial as my key witness.
In front of Federal Judge David Coar, Hyde said I was his hero and had the guts he wished more of us had. His most powerful statement in answer to Judge Coar’s chiding him for standing up for a law-breaker, shocked the courtroom and me as well, when he said:
Had people, feeling as does Mr. Scheidler, surrounded and even obstructed the entrance to Dachau or Auschwitz, there may have been fewer people incinerated there.
Henry became my hero for life. That took guts, especially over the constant harping objections of the NOW lawyers. Much will be said and written about Henry Hyde in the next few days but his humor will always stand out to me as I recall those times he would see me at some pro-life function and call out, “Joe, when are you going to get active?”
President Bush Lauds Hyde
Earlier this month, Henry received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the ceremony in Washington that Henry was not able to attend, President George Bush called him a towering figure on Capitol Hill, a World War II veteran, a lawyer and a scholarly man who walked with kings but kept the common touch.
He chaired both the Judiciary and the International Relations committees in Congress and all were struck by his extraordinary intellect, deep convictions and eloquent voice.
Said President Bush:
He stood for a strong and purposeful America and was a gallant champion of the weak and forgotten, a fearless defender of life in all seasons.
He proved that a man can have firm convictions and be a favorite of Democrats and Republicans alike. We were a better country because he was there.
History Will Be Kind to Hyde
During the Clinton impeachment controversy headed by Hyde, a hostile Democrat, Maxine Waters, scolded Hyde when she said that history would not be kind to him.
We and many others think she was dead wrong. Hyde will be remembered as one of the country’s greatest statesmen and the pro-life movement will remember him as an outstanding hero and protector for the unborn.
To say we’ll miss Henry Hyde here at the Pro-Life Action League is a gross understatement. As of this writing we have no information about the wake or funeral for Henry Hyde, and we suggest that you simply watch the news and look for information in the newspapers.
Eric, Ann and I will be guests of the Denver, CO pro-lifers who are fighting to keep another gargantuan Planned Parenthood abortion mill from opening in their city and we are hoping the funeral will not be held while we are away.
Kass’s Tour de Force on Stem Cells
In other news, John Kass Sunday wrote one of the most comprehensive articles we have yet seen, on the stem-cell debate showing that the whole thing is about abortion and clearly revealed his own well studied conclusion that those of us who fight for the lives of even the smallest human beings are right and those who support use of living human beings are wrong, and they have to try so hard to disguise what they are doing as something besides destroying human life.
Read it; it’s really good.