Joe Biden, a man who is doing his damnedest to hold the Democratic Party back from making even the smallest bit of progress, has apparently reversed course on his previously stated support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, the long-standing and deeply cruel ban on federal funding for most abortions.
At a recent campaign event, a volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union posed the question: “Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which hurts poor women and women of color?”
“Yes.” Biden said, without hesitation, espousing a position that would put him alongside Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, who have all called for an end to the prohibitive anti-abortion measure.
But apparently, that’s not really the case. NBC News reports that, according to Biden’s presidential campaign, he continues to support the federal ban:
Yet his presidential campaign confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, a four-decade-old ban on using federal funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.
Biden’s continued support for Hyde not only sets him apart from the rest of his 2020 Democratic competitors, but it may surprise progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which promoted a recent tweet by one of its activists appearing to get Biden to commit to ending Hyde during a rope-line exchange in South Carolina. Biden’s campaign told NBC he would be open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened.
“The unfair Hyde Amendment makes it so that those who have the least end up having to pay the most to access abortion, and those who are service members or live on reservations are often left with no coverage for abortion care,” Kelly Robinson, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive director, said in a statement to NBC.
“We encourage any candidate who doesn’t recognize Hyde’s impact to speak to the women it hurts most—particularly on women of color and women with low incomes—to learn more about the harmful impacts of this discriminatory policy,” Robinson said.
Biden has never been especially secretive about the fact that he, as a devout Roman Catholic, personally opposes abortion. While he’s often reiterated that he would never impose his personal beliefs on others, his voting record shows a reluctance to embrace abortion rights. NBC reports:
As a U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden voted against a 1977 compromise that allowed Medicaid to fund abortions that included exceptions for victims of rape and incest in addition to concerns for the life of the mother. While the rape and incest exceptions passed in that case, Biden voted in 1981 to again remove them, in what was the most far-reaching ban on federal funds ever enacted by Congress.
Biden also voted several times, including in 1983, to prohibit federal workers from using health insurance on abortion services, with the only exception being to save the life of the mother.
Contrast Biden with other 2020 Democratic candidates like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has vowed to make abortion a litmus test for any judicial nominee, or Elizabeth Warren, who committed to repealing the Hyde Amendment entirely.
Biden campaign press secretary Jamal Brown told NBC that while Biden initially opposed the Supreme Court decision, he now “firmly believes that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and should not be overturned.” Biden himself recently told voters that Roe is “the law of the land, a woman has a right to choose” and, if overturned, would support legislation to keep it legal. But only if she can afford that right without insurance, it seems.
But in a political landscape where Republicans have almost completely dismantled Roe vs. Wade, believing in Roe vs. Wade in theory is not really good enough unless you also believe in enforcing it at every level, so that every person has access to abortion. So again we say: fuck you, Joe Biden.