Liberal activist and actress Alyssa Milano helped convince Joe Biden to flip-flop on his previous support for the Hyde Amendment.
The 2020 frontrunner, after taking fire from his party's left flank for supporting the banning of federal funding for most abortion procedures, abruptly changed his position on Thursday.
According to The Atlantic, that was in part due to Milano making a phone call to his campaign manager Greg Schultz:
Symone Sanders, one of Biden’s senior advisers, confronted him, she confirmed to me Thursday night, telling Biden that he was missing how his position disproportionately affected poorer women and women of color without easy access to abortion. Alyssa Milano, the actress who’s become a major online presence on issues of women’s rights as well as a friend of the Biden team, spoke by phone Wednesday to Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz, telling him the candidate needed to change. More calls came in, more tough conversations.
Biden said in Atlanta that recent pro-life laws passed in Georgia and elsewhere had convinced him to change his mind. This came after he told NBC News earlier in the week he still supported the Hyde Amendment, which is sharply opposed by his fellow 2020 candidates.
"We now see so many Republican governors denying health care to the millions of most poorest and most vulnerable Americans by refusing even Medicare expansion," he said. "I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe health care is a right, which I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code."
Biden had caused whiplash in the party by supporting the Hyde Amendment for decades, then appearing to say on a rope line last month that he would end it as president. However he affirmed to NBC News he supported it before reversing yet again on Thursday.
Milano, an active Twitter presence, was criticized for supporting Biden when several women came forward this year to accuse him of making them uncomfortable with his physical contact. However, she tweeted this week that she still hadn't endorsed Biden, in part due to his view on the "evil rule." She recently made headlines by encouraging a "sex strike" in protest of states passing abortion laws.
Biden is a Roman Catholic and says he personally opposes abortion but doesn't want to impose his religious views on others. In 2007, he described his abortion views as "middle of the road." This is his third presidential bid after making previous failed bids for the nomination in 1988 and 2008.