Should I have been surprised that ReproductiveRights.gov exists? Joe Biden has shifted from touting his long record of supporting the Hyde Amendment and opposing late-term abortions to making unfettered abortion rights the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. But the “dot gov” should still matter, and it does to me as a federal employee.

ReproductiveRights.gov offers resources for avoiding reproduction or snuffing out life in its early stages. The site includes multiple links to AbortionFinder.org, a non-governmental site funded by the likes of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.

Using tax dollars to drive traffic to abortion clinics would certainly seem to violate at least the spirit of the Hyde Amendment. Biden wrote decades ago, as a senator, “Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.” A lot of citizens do not want to pay to cheerlead for abortion, either. But the Biden administration has been evading the spirit of Hyde for some time now.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for ReproductiveRights.gov. When the predecessor to HHS had to first regulate under Hyde, President Jimmy Carter purposely selected Joseph Califano, a practicing Catholic, as the cabinet secretary in order to ensure that the law was actually enforced. President Biden selected Xavier Becerra—a nominal Catholic known for his strident abortion rights advocacy—as cabinet secretary seemingly to work around Hyde as much as possible.

According to the site, “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to protecting reproductive rights, ensuring women can make their own decisions about their own bodies.” It adds that “access to birth control and safe and legal abortion care . . . is an essential part of your health and well-being.” Using career civil servants to fashion text like this seems counter to the spirit of Hyde and it also raises questions under the Hatch Act, a statute that is supposed to keep the federal workforce out of certain overtly political activities. Here, the campaign-style work may be covert enough to technically dodge Hatch, but that does not make it appropriate.

ReproductiveRights.gov came to my attention at work. The government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had directed that every federal employee be made aware of a webpage that included a link to ReproductiveRights.gov—the ostensible reason was to give employees information about health insurance. My organization decided to skip that middle step and sent a direct link to ReproductiveRights.gov in an email blast to all employees. When asked about the added amplification, those behind the message said this was a mistake. I tend to believe them. In D.C., the smart money is always on incompetence over conspiracy. Regardless, the creation of the underlying website was quite intentional. And lest one think this merely the result of a rogue abortion booster buried deep in the bureaucracy, a link to ReproductiveRights.gov is quite literally featured front and center at WhiteHouse.gov, another publicly-funded site.

At my workplace, even if the Hatch Act would allow it, I would not wear an “Unborn Rights Now!” button as I am there to do my job, which has nothing to do with abortion, not campaign for pet political causes. But other symbols that once seemed quite political are now apparently allowed. Our secretary says “Happy Pride Month!” to tens of thousands of employees, and the rainbow flag has been flown at headquarters. Some employees use rainbow-themed backgrounds in video conferences. Many dutifully comply with the techno-nudges to list their pronouns in email signature blocks, and training is held to tell employees that using the wrong pronouns is sexual harassment. The head of a special office makes over $200,000 a year to be the “Champion” of DEIA, and “Diversity Change Agents” are dispatched to foster “mind-set shifts” and “position diversity and inclusion” as “mission critical imperatives” for a “welcoming” workplace.

From First Things