- Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.
- “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta.
- The move is a reversal of Biden’s previous position – his campaign affirmed its support for the controversial measure as recently as Wednesday.
- Biden’s decision to switch his position comes after a rocky few days, during which Biden’s behaviour toward women and his spotty record on reproductive rights came under renewed scrutiny.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment and said he no longer supports it.
“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta.
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right,” he added.
Biden’s campaign invited swift and sustained backlash earlier this week, when he confirmed he still supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal money for abortion except in cases involving rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.
The former vice president’s previous statement reaffirming his support for Hyde was especially scrutinised because he publicly said he would repeal it as president just last month.
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.
Indeed, Biden’s 2020 rivals were quick to skewer him after his campaign confirmed his support for Hyde earlier this week.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday that the rule disproportionately affects poor and marginalized communities, adding, “We do not pass laws that take away that freedom from the women who are most vulnerable.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also wrote on Twitter, “There is #NoMiddleGround on women’s rights. Abortion is a constitutional right. Under my Medicare for All plan, we will repeal the Hyde Amendment.”
The Biden campaign’s reversal on Hyde comes after a rocky few days.
Biden was roundly criticised by his rivals – none of whom directly named him – when he decided to skip attending the California Democratic convention. The event was a hotspot for 14 other presidential hopefuls, including progressive candidates like Sanders and Warren.
On Tuesday, Biden’s campaign took another hit when two of his controversial talking points came back into the spotlight: his behaviour toward women and new allegations of plagiarism.
During a campaign event in New Hampshire, the former vice president repeated a joke about touching women after a female supporter leaned in to whisper into his ear.
“I want the press to know, she pulled me close,” Biden said, as the older, almost entirely white crowd laughed and applauded. The comment drew immediate backlash from feminists and left-leaning progressives, many of whom took issue with Biden’s cavalier attitude towards the allegations against him in lieu of a direct apology.
Later on Tuesday, INSIDER reported that the Biden campaign’s official plan on climate change had been lifted or closely copied language from several other environmental groups. The Biden team said it was a mistake, but the report nonetheless brought to the forefront previous issues he’s had with accusations of plagiarism, some of which contributed to tanking his 1988 presidential campaign.
Grace Panetta contributed reporting.
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