Former vice president Joe Biden has flipped on the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 ban on using federal funds for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, with his campaign now saying he supports it.
Biden's renewed support contrasts with comments he made in early May. When asked by an American Civil Liberties Union activist if he would support repealing the amendment, Biden appeared to say that he would, although in the past he has voted in its favor.
"Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which hurts poor women and—," the activist began asking Biden.
"Yes," Biden said. "Yes. And by the way, ACLU member, I have a near-perfect voting record my entire career."
"I heard you did," the activist replied. "But I’m glad you just said you would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment."
"Right now it has to be," Biden said. "It can’t stay."
After the exchange, the ACLU promoted a tweet saying that Biden supported repealing the Hyde Amendment.
Our volunteer Nina asked Joe Biden whether, as president, he would lift the Hyde amendment, which bans federal insurance coverage of abortion.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 8, 2019
Later in the month, both the Washington Post and National Review reported that Biden supported repealing the Hyde Amendment. Biden now appears to have flipped back, with his campaign telling NBC News Wednesday that the candidate is only "open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened."
Biden has expressed his opposition to federal abortion funding more strongly in the past.
"I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them," Biden wrote to a constituent in 1994. "As you may know, I have consistently—on no fewer than 50 occasions—voted against federal funding of abortions."
Biden's self-professed "middle-of-the-road position on abortion" has earned him the ire of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, which criticized Biden in a tweet, saying "There’s NO political or ideological excuse for @JoeBiden’s support for the Hyde Amendment, which translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple. His position further endangers people already facing enormous hurdles."
There’s NO political or ideological excuse for @JoeBiden’s support for the Hyde Amendment, which translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple. His position further endangers people already facing enormous hurdles. https://t.co/3jDleIq077
— NARAL (@NARAL) June 5, 2019
Other 2020 Democratic candidates have expressed stronger opposition to the Hyde Amendment, with Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) co-sponsoring a bill to overturn the amendment.