Joe Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment shows Democrats still at odds over abortion

Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden walks with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, left, on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in downtown Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden walks with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, left, on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in downtown Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

On Thursday night June 6, Joe Biden reversed course and withdrew his support for the Hyde Amendment. Read the story here.

Former Vice President Joe Biden muddled into the suddenly revived culture war over abortion when he was forced to offer a qualified reiteration of his support of the Hyde Amendment on June 5. That decades-old agreement prevents federal funds under most circumstances from being used for abortions.

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A video-captured conversation came to light on June 5 between the former vice president and a South Carolina activist, in which Mr. Biden appeared to suggest he backed the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. His campaign quickly clarified that Mr. Biden thought the activist was asking about the so-called Mexico City rule, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid to non-American organizations that provide abortion services.

The campaign said Mr. Biden supports ending the Mexico City rule but backs the Hyde Amendment—for now. That would change, it said, “if avenues for women to access their protected rights under Roe v. Wade are closed.”

A Biden campaign spokesperson explained the former vice president specifically “would be open to repealing” Hyde if abortion access is further threatened by laws—like those recently passed in Georgia and Alabama—that deeply restrict access to abortion. The hedging prompted an intraparty outcry, with advocates for abortion rights deploring Mr. Biden’s position and top Democrats reaffirming their commitment to abortion rights and ending Hyde. The pushback marked the first significant instance in which virtually the entire crowded 2020 field united to critique Mr. Biden, who has emerged as an early Democratic front-runner.

The campaign said Mr. Biden supports ending the Mexico City rule but backs the Hyde Amendment—for now.

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New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted: “Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats.” On Capitol Hill, California Sen. Kamala Harris told The Associated Press she was “absolutely opposed to the idea that a woman is not going to have an ability to exercise her choice based on how much money she’s got.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, during an MSNBC town hall in Indiana, said Mr. Biden was wrong to support the abortion funding restriction. “Women of means will still have access to abortions,” Ms. Warren said. “Who won’t will be poor women, will be working women, will be women who can’t afford to take off three days from work.”

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Former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke said on CBS News that Mr. Biden was “absolutely wrong” on his stance on the Hyde Amendment. “I hope that Joe Biden rethinks his position,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “Perhaps he doesn’t have all the facts. Perhaps he doesn’t understand who the Hyde Amendment hurts the most.”

Other presidential candidates, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also voiced support for ending the Hyde Amendment.

The Democratic Party’s absolutism on Hyde is of recent vintage (the call for its repeal was only added to the party platform in 2016), but candidate Biden may prove to be the only Democratic contender who dares to suggest he supports it this election cycle. It was a discouraging spectacle for pro-life Democrats still seeking to influence the direction of the 2020 campaign.

“The push back on his very weak support for Hyde and the continued effort by Democratic leaders to make pro-life Democrats feel unwelcome is a bad strategy for Democrats,” Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats For Life of America, commented via email. “When you have top-tier 2020 candidates saying they don’t want us to vote, we won’t. There is a growing frustration [that the party] is taking our loyalty for granted. If they continue, they are going to turn around and see we are no longer there.”

“The push back on his very weak support for Hyde and the continued effort by Democratic leaders to make pro-life Democrats feel unwelcome is a bad strategy for Democrats.”

In a statement Democrats for Life of America released on June 6, Ms. Day said, “With all the major candidates fighting to be the most extreme on abortion, it is encouraging to see a candidate bring a more moderate position to the discussion.” She added that the pro-life Democrats “do have concerns about the qualification that he would oppose it under certain conditions.

“Pro-life Democratic voters would want further assurances on his commitment to Hyde and to his overall opinion of inclusion for pro-life voters in the party,” she said. “We would like to see the focus on support to make abortion rare, not less safe and more available. We believe our party can and should find common ground on those lines. Considering the large number of poor women who believe that abortion is their only choice, paying for abortion and not focusing on alternatives does not coincide with our Democratic values.”

Ms. Day added: “As Democrats, we advocate for equal opportunity and equality. Poor women don’t want money for abortions; they want the same opportunities to parent as their rich counterparts.

“We believe the Democratic 2020 candidates should move the debate from abortion access to how are we going to provide low-income women with the same opportunities and a real choice.”

The Hyde Amendment, named for its chief sponsor, the late Henry Hyde, a Republican House member from Illinois, was first signed into law in 1976 with the support of almost half of the Democratic legislators in the U.S. Congress. It bars the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of incest, rape or to save the life of the mother. Attempts to make the ongoing amendment’s prohibitions permanent have failed. Mr. Biden has long been a supporter of the once-bipartisan amendment.

After controversy similarly erupted in 2017 when Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, suggested that Democratic candidates who do not support abortion rights would not be eligible for support from the party, senior Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California and even candidate Sanders, insisted there was room in the party for members with pro-life views. That was also the position that Mr. Biden endorsed himself as vice president in an interview with America in 2015.

Mr. Biden has said in the past he personally agrees with the church’s opposition to abortion but does not think the government should impose his views on others. After the Supreme Court decided the Roe v. Wade case, he originally worried the decision “went too far,” though he later became a staunch defender of it.

“I’ve stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years," he wrote in his 2007 book Promises to Keep. “I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion, but I will also vote against a constitutional amendment that strips a woman of her right to make her own choice.”

With reporting from The Associated Press

Nora Bolcon
1 week 5 days ago

And this is why you can take Mr. Biden and tell him to go stuff his "I don't want to have to pick any side of anything - I just wanna be elected President bull" and stick it where the moon don't shine.

This guy is forever faltering on women's rights issues. If you have to constantly be reminded you are suppose to stand up for women then it is clear you don't really want to do it at all. So go and become Republican please . . .

I knew this guy was Mr. Smooth operator and a total faker since the Anita Hill Hearings and his refusing to let other women with legitimate complaints against Justice Thomas testify. So we got our first Justice who was a known Sexual Harasser from Biden's brilliant and anti-woman morality.

Give me Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris any day of the week. These women are not afaid to be first to tell you they back women and justice on all issues - whether or not it is popular. That is the description of a Democrat or it should be. No - there is no room for Pro-Lifers on the Democratic Ticket unless they are completely willing to give up all legal remedies and support of criminalizing abortion or making abortion difficult to access in the U.S.

The below Facts are why I say this with integrity and pride.

We need Democrats that are real again and are willing to shove the truth and evidence and facts into the faces of these lying, greedy, Republicans who only back pro-life to secure the vote of the ignorant and unwilling to be informed, or the Sexist-no-matter-what team of Americans.

THE FACTS ABOUT ABORTION: NOT OPINIONS MR. BIDEN AND THE SUPPOSED DEMOCRATS FOR LIFE (LOL):

IF YOU ARE PRO LIFE THEN DON'T YOU WANT LESS ABORTION? ISN'T THAT GOAL AT LEAST PART OF THE PLAN? IF IT IS, NO ONE WOULD KNOW IT BECAUSE YOUR CHOICE OF REMEDIES CREATES YOUR WORST RESULT -WHICH IS MORE - MUCH MORE ABORTIONS. WE HAVE, AS OF LAST YEAR, ONE OF THE LOWEST ABORTION RATES IN THE WORLD, AND A RATE LOWER THAN WHEN IT WAS A CRIME IN THE U.S. AND IN LARGE PART DUE TO OUR EASY ACCESS TO BOTH BIRTH CONTROL AND ABORTION.

PLEASE READ FACTS BELOW: (especially, since, in Missouri alone, and its tightening of access to abortion, over the last couple of years, there have already been over 300,000 self abortions that we know of and are recorded. This does destroy the fetus (desperate self-aborting) but the women who are often young teenage girls regularly die too. Explain how that is pro life please? Last I checked 2 deaths is more than one.)

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.
(Notes from my other research on this topic - bottom)
REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:
• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.
However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.
We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.
Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)
A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.
Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)
The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

Tim O'Leary
1 week 4 days ago

Nora - you need not worry. Democrats like Biden will always cave on abortion. How anyone with a straight face can say it is pro-woman to support a license to kill - when the majority of victims are girls- is beyond me. While I didn't vote for Trump or Hillary last time around, and consider myself a nevertrumper, I have to say that this demonic push by the Democrats is severely weakening my resolve. It is like WW2 and having to align myself with Russia to defeat the Nazis (well, the feminazis).

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

Abortion access is a constitutional right - the idea that the government can deny Medicaid and Medicare from women who want an abortion, mostly poor women, disabled women, women of color, and women in the military, is unconscionable. Kristen Day is totally out of touch with the majority of Democratic voters. So is Biden. The amendment perpetuates inequality and unfairness and most Democrats want it repealed.

DB Stephens
1 week 5 days ago

Sorry there is no right anywhere in the constitution to have someone else pay for your abortion. It's just not there. Truth be known there is no right to abortion in it either which is why Democrats who have relied on the twisted right to privacy upon which Roe is built are now in a perpetual state of panic over what's going to happen to Roe. You had decades to get a constitutional amendment, you should have done it, the only reason you didn't is because you know you can't pass one with anywhere near the scope you want since about 1/2 the country would limit the "right" to the first trimester if given a say.

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

Whether you agree with the Court ruling or not, it happened, it's law. And while it is the law, there is no defensible reason for the government to pay for other reproductive care for women, but not abortion, especially when that lack of payment puts an indue burden on people who can't afford it.

Nora Bolcon
1 week 5 days ago

DB With those completely flawed stats., You must be part of the knights of columbus. LOL

John Sharpe
1 week 5 days ago

What This magazine should be commenting on is where the Bishop and the Jesuits land with Biden’s stated nuanced position. I’m pretty sure we know what Joe said, that doesn’t need to be reiterated. The question to the editors and the Bishops is what is your opinion on that position and where do you stand?

Gabriel Marcella
1 week 5 days ago

It's becoming clear that Democrats want to win in 2020 by alienating the pro-life movement, thereby ceding the field to the Republicans. Bad strategy.

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

You guys really overestimate the number of voters who are pro-life.

Gabriel Marcella
1 week 5 days ago

The dismissive nature of your comment suggests that the Democrats will have a problem. Political realism says that the Democrats have to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to take the White House in 2020. Trump took Pennsylvania in 2016 by a mere 44, 292 votes. Every vote counts. Pennsylvania has a high number of pro-lifers, including conservative Democrats. To dismiss their political clout in the electoral college calculation is a bad mistake. Pennsylvania has 20 votes in the electoral college.

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

1) There may be some pro-life Democrats and Independents in those states, but even the majority of pro-life people do not want to overturn Roe and ban all abortion. That is what reactionaries like Kristen Day want and what we are seeing now in states like Georgia, Alabama, etc. They are fringe, even among pro-life people.
2) But the Democrats do not really need those moderate pro-lifers. The Republican party is a small fraction of the voting public. There are more Democrats. And there are a ton more people who would be Democrats - especially among the young and the poor - who simply need to be resourced more effectively.
3) And anyway, Trump winning was a fluke. He lost the popular vote. If he hadn't had Russia's help, even the electoral college couldn't have saved him. I doubt he'll be that lucky twice.

John Sharpe
1 week 5 days ago

Hillary did not win the popular vote, those votes counted were illegal numbers manipulated by Russians. You should read the Mueller Report

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

If you really had read the report, you would know the Russians manipulated the elections to help Trump win, not Hillary.

DB Stephens
1 week 5 days ago

Oh yeah sure some tweets and a paltry 100K in facebook ads defeated the almost ONE BILLION spent by Clinton and her PACS, that and the Russian hacking of Hillary's calendar causing her to waste time in CA and NY instead of the freaking battleground. I have some ocean front land in AZ for sale, are you interested?

Douglas Fang
1 week 5 days ago

What kind of reality denial this statement is? Show me the evidence that these votes were illegal or is this just a pure fantasy? Russian interference is unequivocally described in the Mueller Report. Distortion of reality is something only Trump and his fanatical supporters can do.

John Sharpe
1 week 5 days ago

A bunch of Russian kids sitting at home in their underwear manipulated the algorithms, It’s the Mueller Report, you should read it.

Nora Bolcon
1 week 4 days ago

Ok John, since you have read the Mueller report where it supposedly states that Clinton did not win the popular vote by over three million real citizen's votes, please cite for us what page of his report that is on please?

You goofed John, Mueller stated in interviews, himself, that the Russians tried to effect actual votes in our system but we're not able to actually add or subtract any ballot numbers but they came close and there does exist evidence that tried to to do this. So yes Clinton did win the real popular vote by over three million. You can't just say stuff and expect people to believe your nonsense is true.

Nora Bolcon
1 week 4 days ago

Ok John - Now that is funny. False but funny.

Nora Bolcon
1 week 4 days ago

Trump did not win those states due to pro life. He won them because Clinton did not visit them near the end of her campaign trail and she should have and Trump did. Trump lied and told these desperate people who were dealing with huge job losses due to automation that he would get them their jobs back. He not only did not do this but his trade war with China has made things worse for these states so Republicans are not likely to win them again. Also the farmers just about hate trump right now due to his moronic tariffs and many of them had voted for Trump.

You need to also remember that Clinton won the popular vote by over three million votes and this was despite literal treason with Russia by Trump, unfair biased treatment by the head of the FBI and attacks on Facebook and wiki links by foreign entities and the extreme amounts of gerrymandering in many red states. After trump got elected women took to the streets in the millions protesting against Trump standing up for the right to safe and legal abortion.

I don't think pro life has the force you think it has and now that we are already seeing results of the trap laws that make access harder already in many states, like Missouri, causing more than 300,000 official and reported cases of self abortion, in just that state alone, since these laws were put into effect, I think the pro life lie that these laws won't hurt women or seek to jail women, and that these laws won't cause abortion rates and maternal death rates to rise in the U.S. will shine out for the lies they are.

DB Stephens
1 week 5 days ago

Democrats really really over estimate the number of people who support abortion paid for by the tax payers during any part of pregnancy when every poll known to man shows majorities want very significant limits. Only 29% think abortion should be legal under all circumstances. 68% either want it illegal (18%) or legal only under certain circumstances (50%). So by all means, over reach, you usually do which is why 1040 elected offices went bye bye during the Obama years.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

Crystal Watson
1 week 5 days ago

2018 mid-term elections ... :)

Martha Murray
1 week 5 days ago

Guess what. Biden flip flopped again and now states he is against the Hyde Ammendment. No reasonable Catholic should trust him with the lives of anyone...,

DB Stephens
1 week 5 days ago

"Joe Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment shows Democrats still at odds over abortion"

No it shows that Biden is completely out of touch with the abortion on demand whenever wherever with no limits Democrat party he hopes is going to nominate him which is why he's gone from polling 30+ points above the rest of the Democrat field to about 11 in the last poll I saw and that's in only about a month.

Andrew Strada
1 week 4 days ago

Soon the highest ranking Democrat willing to speak out publicly against abortion rights will be a dog catcher in a rural county in Kansas. Clearly, deviations from the party line on this issue are not to be tolerated.

Judith Jordan
1 week 4 days ago

Andrew Strada--
Do you think they are as intolerant a the pro-birth movement?

Jeffrey More
1 week 4 days ago

This man is a totally unprincipled panderer. He can’t be trusted BY ANYONE, no matter their beliefs concerning abortion.

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