- Reproductive rights advocates are slamming former Vice President Joe Biden over his support for a rule prohibiting federally-funded programs from covering abortion procedures.
- Biden’s campaign confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday that Biden supports keeping the 1973 Hyde Amendment, which bans any federal funding from subsidizing abortion except in rare circumstances.
- Abortion access has become a flashpoint in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, as a record number of Southern and Midwestern states attempt to severely curtail the legality of the procedure.
- Both the 2016 Democratic party platform and multiple 2020 presidential candidates say the Hyde Amendment should be scrapped altogether.
- The backlash against Biden comes as Democrats struggle with how to treat anti-abortion Democrats running for office at all levels nationwide in congressional and gubernatorial races.
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Reproductive rights advocates are slamming former Vice President Joe Biden, who is opposed to abortion personally but supports its legality, over his continued support for a controversial rule prohibiting federally-funded programs from covering abortion procedures.
Biden’s campaign confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday that Biden now supports keeping the 1973 Hyde Amendment, which bans any federal funding from subsidizing abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the pregnant person, despite publicly saying he would repeal it as president just last month.
A campaign spokesperson told the Huffington Post that Biden previously confused the Hyde Amendment with the global gag rule, which cuts off US aid funding to organisations that provide abortion care or referrals abroad.
Abortion rights advocates argue that the Amendment puts access to abortion completely out of reach for low-income patients who receive healthcare coverage through Medicaid, or rely on clinics funded by Title X for healthcare. Both the 2016 Democratic party platform and multiple 2020 presidential candidates say it should be scrapped altogether.
Abortion access has become a flashpoint in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, as a record number of Southern and Midwestern states attempt to severely curtail the legality of the procedure.
In April and May alone, the governors of Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama signed some of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country into law.
Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, and Mississippi have moved to ban abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually, around five to six of weeks pregnancy with “heartbeat” bills. Missouri banned abortions after eight weeks, and Alabama passed a law to ban the procedure altogether and punish doctors who perform abortions with jail time.
While none of these new laws or any previous six-week ban states have formally gone into effect and all are being challenged in court, they have put activists on notice that abortion access is in danger nationwide.
“There’s no political or ideological excuse for [Biden’s] support for the Hyde Amendment, which translates into discrimination against poor women and women of colour plain and simple,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.
“At a time when reproductive rights are under consistent attack, it’s unacceptable that a major Democratic nominee supports the Hyde Amendment…we hope that Vice President Biden will reconsider this position and what it means to millions of women,” wrote Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democrats.
Fellow 2020 candidates including Gov. Jay Inslee, former Rep.Beto O’Rourke, Reps. Tim Ryan and Eric Swalwell, Julian Castro, and Sens.Bernie Sanders,Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand all reiterated their support for repealing the Hyde Amendment without calling out Biden by name on Twitter.
Warren and Gillibrand have introduced policy plans to safeguard abortion access at the federal level, and Harris has proposed requiring states to obtain approval from the Department of Justice before enacting any new abortion restrictions in a plan modelled after the Voting Rights Act.
“Repealing the Hyde Amendment is critical so that low-income women, in particular, can have access to the reproductive care they need and deserve,” Gillibrand tweeted. “Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be non-negotiable for all Democrats.”
The backlash against Biden comes as Democrats struggle with how to treat anti-abortion Democrats running for office at all levels nationwide.
Illinois Rep. and DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos recently planned, then canceled a fundraiser for fellow Illinois Democrat Dan Lipinski, who has long opposed abortion. Lipinski is facing a primary challenge from pro-choice candidate Marie Newman, who has received the endorsement of at least two presidential candidates.
And recent reports from The Huffington Post and NBC News have documented how Democrats are divided when it comes to how much they should support the gubernatorial campaigns of anti-abortion Democrats like Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who recently signed a restrictive “heartbeat” bill into law, and Mississippi’s Jim Hood, who is defending the state’s “heartbeat” bill in court as attorney general.
Reproductive rights advocates have bristled at Democratic Governors’ Association support for both candidates, with Hogue telling The Huffington Post that “people who are not on the right side of history erode the confidence in the Democratic Party that they have our backs at a time when it’s really crucial that women know they have a home.”
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