Associated PressJune 07, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden told an audience in Atlanta Thursday that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal funding from paying for abortions. (John Bazemore/AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — After two days of intense criticism, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.

“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment” that makes it more difficult for some women to access care, Biden said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta.

The former vice president’s reversal on the Hyde Amendment came after rivals and women’s rights groups blasted him for affirming through campaign aides that he still supported the decades-old budget provision. The dynamics had been certain to flare up again at Democrats’ first primary debate in three weeks.

Speaking on behalf of Democrats For Life of America, the group’s executive director Kristen Day said, “We are extremely disappointed that Vice President Biden choose to cave to the pressure of the abortion lobby instead of standing with a majority of Americans who support the Hyde Amendment. With all the major candidates fighting to be the most extreme on abortion, there is a wide open lane for a candidate to bring an alternative position to the discussion and to unify Democrats around common ground principles.

“As pro-life Democrats, we would like to see the focus on support for mothers to make abortion rare,” said Day. “We believe that our Democratic Party can and should find common ground along 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.”

Biden didn’t mention this week’s attacks, saying his decision was about health care, not politics. Yet the circumstances highlight the risks for a 76-year-old former vice president who’s running as more of a centrist in a party in which some skeptical activists openly question whether he can be the party standard-bearer in 2020.

And Biden’s explanation tacitly repeated his critics’ arguments that the Hyde Amendment is another abortion barrier that disproportionately affects poor women and women of color.

“I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said, opening a speech dedicated mostly to voting rights and issues important to the black community.

“I want to be clear: I make no apologies for my last position. I make no apologies for what I’m about to say,” he explained, arguing that “circumstances have changed” with Republican-run states — including Georgia, where Biden spoke — adopting severe restrictions on abortion .

A Roman Catholic who has wrestled publicly with abortion policy for decades, Biden said he voted as a senator to support the Hyde Amendment because he believed that women would still have access to abortion even without Medicaid insurance and other federal health care grants and that abortion opponents shouldn’t be compelled to pay for the procedure. It was part of what Biden has described as a “middle ground” on abortion.

Now, he says, there are too many barriers that threaten that constitutional right, leaving some women with no reasonable options as long as Republicans keep pushing for an outright repeal of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The former vice president, who launched his 2020 presidential campaign in April, said he arrived at the decision as part of developing an upcoming comprehensive health care proposal. He has declared his support for a Medicare-like public option as the next step toward universal coverage. He reasoned that his goal of universal coverage means women must have full and fair access to care, including abortion.

A Planned Parenthood representative applauded Biden’s reversal but noted that he has been lagging the women’s rights movement on the issue.

“Happy to see Joe Biden embrace what we have long known to be true: Hyde blocks people — particularly women of color and women with low incomes — from accessing safe, legal abortion care,” said Leana Wen of Planned Parenthood, the women’s health giant whose services include abortion and abortion referrals.

Other activists accepted credit for pushing Biden on the issue.

“We’re pleased that Joe Biden has joined the rest of the 2020 Democratic field in coalescing around the Party’s core values — support for abortion rights, and the basic truth that reproductive freedom is fundamental to the pursuit of equality and economic security in this country,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, a leading abortion-rights advocacy group.

Repealing Hyde has become a defining standard for Democrats in recent years, making what was once a more common position among moderate Democrats more untenable, particularly given the dynamics of primary politics heading into 2020. At its 2016 convention, the party included a call for repealing Hyde in the Democratic platform, doing so at the urging of nominee Hillary Clinton.

At least one prominent Democratic woman remained unconvinced.

“I am not clear that Joe Biden believes unequivocally that every single woman has the right to make decisions about her body, regardless of her income or race,” said Democratic strategist Jess Morales Rocketto, who worked for Clinton in 2016. “It is imperative that the Democratic nominee believe that.”

Republicans pounced, framing Biden’s change in position as a gaffe.

“He’s just not very good at this. Joe Biden is an existential threat to Joe Biden,” said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

A senior Biden campaign official said some aides were surprised at the speed of the reversal, given Biden’s long history of explaining his abortion positions in terms of his faith. But aides realized that as the front-runner, the attacks weren’t going to let up, and his campaign reasoned that the fallout within the Democratic primary outweigh any long-term benefit of maintain his previous Hyde support.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.

Biden’s decades-long position first gained new scrutiny several weeks ago when the American Civil Liberties Union circulated video of the candidate telling an activist who asked about the Hyde Amendment that it should be repealed.

His campaign later affirmed his support for his fellow Democrats’ call for a federal statute codifying the Roe v. Wade abortion decision into law.

This story will be updated.

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Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

Just 2 days to reverse a lifetime of supposed principle. Hilarious if it wasn't so macabre. And, so many lies in his speech. Biden lied that this reversal is not about politics. He lied when he says "I want to be clear: I make no apologies for my last position" Just like his denial re apologies for opposing gay marriage and not going full racist against Judge Thomas and for saying Mike Pence was a nice guy. Pope Francis has likened the hiring of an abortionist to hiring a mafia hitman. Biden now wants the taxpayer to pay for the hitman. If the Church is serious about child abuse, then she needs to excommunicate any unrepentant public and persistent supporter of this ultimate form of child abuse.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

In 2015, just before Pope Francis arrived in the US, VP Biden said "Abortion is always wrong" and that he believes life begins at conception.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3246025/Abortion-wrong-Vice-president-Joe-Biden-offers-stance-abortion-says-believes-life-begins-conception.html

Andrew Strada
1 year 11 months ago

He caved. Very predictable. Very sad.

Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago

It's not like every Catholic politician is pro-life ... Nancy Pelosi is also Catholic. And a majority of Catholics are pro-choice too, so it's not surprising.

Andrew Strada
1 year 11 months ago

Catholic Democrats tend to favor abortion rights; Catholic Republicans to oppose them. Political party is a better predictor on this issue than is religion.

Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago

Yes, but sometimes the religion does determine a lot, like with most of the Evangelicals supporting Trump.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

Crystal – your claims are incorrect. See the recent Gallup & Marist polls (links below).
48% of all Americans self-describe as “pro-choice.” Only 29% think it should be legal under any circumstances. Only 28% think abortion should be legal in the 2nd trimester and only 13% in the third trimester. So, less than a 1/3rd support what the Democrats demand. In the Marist poll, 75% wanted abortion legal only in the first trimester.
You are even more inaccurate when it comes to Catholics. 85% of practicing Catholics said they do not support abortion at all.

Gallup numbers (2018) https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx and https://news.gallup.com/poll/235469/trimesters-key-abortion-views.aspx
2019 Marist poll https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2019/01/15/new-poll-vast-majority-of-americans-want-abortion-restrictions/

Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago

But in all, about 70+% want Roe to remain the law of the land and abortion to remain legal.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

The actual poll said only 51% supported keeping Roe. If any poll show that it is because they don't know what Roe means. most think it only approves 1st trimester abortion. When asked directly what they want, 47% of Americans think abortion should be banned for most reasons, and allowed only in cases of rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s life. Any politician who took one of those positions would be considered anti-abortion, and any of them entails the prohibition of the vast majority of abortions.
Most Americans believe abortion kills a human being and most Americans favor many more abortion restrictions than are currently in law.

rose-ellen caminer
1 year 11 months ago

I think from watching the tape where he answers the question, that he miss heard or misinterpreted what he heard. But he and his campaign people would rather say he flipped flopped in 24 hours then admit that he may have not heard or misunderstood the question as that might raise concerns about his fitness due to age.[ some cognitive impairment if it was no just a hearing loss]. On CNN last night his campaign person was being asked about his 24 hour flip flop, and what he said made no sense .So when he kept being pressed , he finally admitted this possibility. He told the host that in the circumstances where you are in a crowd of people , it can happen that you mishear or
misunderstand a question.[ paraphrasing what was said].Then he changed the subject. Finally, I thought, this clears it all up but the host did not pursue this.As if it were an unstated pact that pursuing this explanation would open the can of worm about Biden's age and be unfair to Biden. [ ageist]So they moved on.

Biden's another Catholic who is fine with saying he, as a Catholic, opposes the killing of the unborn but believes it should be legal. Now the compromise of abortion as a legal elective which the government is not responsible for paying for, is out the window. Every upping the ante the pro abortion people agitate for, these Catholic politicians eagerly jump on that bandwagon!

Talk about not having core values; talk about serving two Masters![ the legality of killing the unborn is not solely a religious matter; its a humanistic matter so there is no inherent conflict between any Constitutional separation of church and state; no matter what the pro abortion people say. Abortion was once illegal even with the understanding of the Constitutional mandated separation of church and state].

I believe that any Catholic like a politician with power to effect policy, who publicly supports the legalized killing of the unborn should be excommunicated. Not for believing in it[ you can't help what you believe] but for defying church core values; the made in God's image sanctity and dignity of all human life including the innocent unborn. Publicly advocating for the support of legalized killing of the unborn undermines Catholicism/Christianity.[imo]

ps; my daughter just had a baby right in our living room; My daughter is schizophrenic. She had told me about a week prior that she wanted the baby born right here at home . The baby was just lying there on the couch not moving, early in the morning [ last Saturday]. My husband got up early to go by rolls, my daughter was lying on the couch just looking at him. Not saying anything; looking calm.When he returned like 15 minutes later, she said to him; the baby's here.He looked and there it was on the couch on the side.My husband thought it was dead. She said no its not; he touched it and it moved.My daughter picked it up it was not moving but it was breathing normally.My husband got me up.The paramedics came and cut the cord. It was so helpless and precious the thought that it is legal to kill it is just astounding in its cruelty and evil!My daughter has had to give the baby girl up for adoption. She did tell the adoption agency that she wanted if possible for the adoptive parents to be Catholic. I was surprised to hear her say that, but she did.Please you all, pray for the baby girl[my daughter called her Cleopatra, as soon as it was born ; I don't know why; the baby's hair is black?]The baby is with the agency waiting to be adopted!Please pray that she is,and for my daughter too.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

Dear Rose-ellen - Thanks for your personal story at the end. May God bless you and your family.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Biden really disappoints. I will certainly be looking at other Democrats at this point. Since even the previously most moderate vis a vis abortion has leaned far left on the subject, I'd might as well pick a candidate who is more socially-minded on other social issues like taxes, health care, and immigration. Sanders or Warren look more acceptable to me now.

Trump is beyond the pale and unacceptable under any circumstances. The end does not justify the means. Pro-life or not, he is unacceptable.

It is Trump's fault, IMO, that anti-Catholicism is at an all time high. The imperative to vote Democratic to remove him from office means that life issues, family issues, and religious liberty issues will suffer under liberal Democratic rule. But that can't be helped for now. Trump must go.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

Fred - Elizabeth Warren has voted for the Hyde Amendment in the very recent past, and now she is vehemently opposed to it. She is also a liar who tried to take advantage of the college racial preference system to enhance her resume. Sanders is a socialist who even praised the Soviet Union as the way of the future, only a few years before it collapsed. (He chose to honeymoon there). Both are atheist abortion extremists who intend to weaken the first amendment's protection of free speech and religion. Trump is a brute and tells lies every day, but they are mostly small self-aggrandizing lies. Sanders and Warren tell Big lies, lies that steal and kill. You might lose your civility voting for Trump. But, you will lose your soul voting for the Democrats. Biden is one of the few in the Democratic race who could have brought the country back somewhere to political normalcy. Particularly, this year, he could have won it all by staying with his middle-road principles. But, he lacks the courage of his convictions. Pathetic.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Tim we disagree. Trump has told egregious lies like what he has said about immigrants and $%#&-hole countries. Entire countries! And you call those "small?" Lies like that have consequences; really bad ones. Look at what Trump is doing on the borders.

Conflating socialism with communism is simply wrong. You need to study the essence of communism: dialectical materialism. Then try to tell me communism and socialism are in any way equivalent. Socialism itself is an all-over-the-board philosophy. It's as mild as the disciples placing their goods at the feet of the apostles and as broad as the socialism of Scandinavian democracies. None of that is communism.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

Fred - Bernie Sanders didn't choose to honeymoon in a "socialist" democracy like Sweden. He specifically chose communist nations to visit and praise, the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Cuba. So, at that time, he didn't make those distinctions that you do about socialism and communism. He also was a strong support of Hugo Rafael Chávez's Venezuela, only a few years ago. Why was he supporting murderous regimes if he was only motivated by a larger safety net for the poor?

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Tim, Bernie's not the guy I support at the moment, but I think you mischaracterize his philosophy. He is not a Communist nor is he in favor of an oppressive dictatorship. He does have a passion for the poor and downtrodden. He blames the wealthy for failing to take care of the less fortunate. That sounds in many respects like a Jewish preacher of 2,000 years ago or a sister in India more recently, no?

Martha Murray
1 year 11 months ago

Trump is probably not sainthood material but certainly has nothing to do with anti-Catholism. Catholics own that one all on ourselves. Abortion is not a religious issue but when Catholic politicians publicly rebuke the church’s teachings to win votes, we are all diminished.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Abortion not a religious issue? You don't think "Thou shalt not kill" has relevance here?

I do think that a secondary effect of Trump's election will be a strong opposing reaction in favor of the Democrats. A pity because, besides opposing Trump (a winning issue) Democrats are vying with each other to adopt positions that impinge on Catholic values.

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

In Alabama, where women will now be forced to carry to term pregnancies resulting from rape, those rapists have the legal right to custody of children resulting from those rapes. THAT is the context in which Biden spoke. I have had no plan to vote for him AND what has changed is that a state just passed a law allowing men to rape women and then gain custody of the children the State forced the woman to have.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/in-alabama--where-lawmakers-banned-abortion-for-rape-victims--rapists-parental-rights-are-protected/2019/06/09/6d2aa5de-831b-11e9-933d-7501070ee669_story.html

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Whoa. Alabama just passed a law allowing men to rape women?

I know you didn't mean that but it illustrates the questionable thinking that goes into these debates. Whataboutism has become the scourge of thinking people. Logical fallacies abound.

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

Fred, thank you for acknowledging I did not say or mean that the State of Alabama makes rape legal. What IS legal in Alabama is for rapists to sue the girls/teens/women they impregnated while raping those girls/teens/women for the purpose of gaining custody of the child/children that resulted from that man's rape of that girl/teenager/woman. The State of Alabama has now passed a law compelling girls/teenagers/women to remain pregnant after being raped and impregnated by their rapists.

There are definitely gross inhumanities in those laws but there is no fallacy, logical or otherwise, in my description of those State of Alabama laws. If those facts are irrelevancies ("whataboutisms") or slippy thinking for in YOUR thinking, then you are a person who simply refuses debate rather than a person whose assessment of meaningful debate is valid.

If those are irrelevancies to you, then you are a person lacks the capacity for compassion for a girl/teenager/woman who is forced by the State to release her infant/toddler/preschooler/3rd grader/5th grader/menstruating daughter to the man who forced her legs apart, forcibly pushed his erect penis inside her vagina, forcibly deposited sperm into her vagina and then publicly identified himself as the man who did those things to an unwilling girl/teenager/woman, forced her into a courtroom with him and demanded the State implicitly reward him for raping her by making her give her child to her rapist.

If that decades-long horror is an irrelevancy to you, Fred, you lack normal compassion and, thus, there is then no point in engaging with you.

Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago

Concern for girls/women is the last thing on the mind of pro-life people. For a time the pro-life movement pretended that they thought of women as the "second victim" of abortion, but they've dropped that pretense with these recent extreme laws.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

All of it depends on whether the life in a woman's womb is a human life deserving of protection, doesn't it?

*IF* the child in the womb is a human life, then we have a problem don't we? Whose life is more valuable? Are either of you willing to say one of those lives—the mother or the infant-in-the-womb—is more valuable than the other? Or are you going to continue to insist that the life in the womb is a non-human being?

The "whataboutism" I refer to is the shift in the essential argument to "what about the fact that the mother was raped?" That is an incredibly difficult problem, I will grant you that. Such an extreme situation demands and deserves extreme support for the mother. But still the old proverb holds: "A thousand difficulties do not produce a doubt."

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

The life of the pregnant girl/adolescent girl/woman is more valuable than the fetus inside her body.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

And therein lies the essence of the problem abortion supporters must confront.

How is any one human life more important than any other? Ethically and morally, how do you justify deliberately destroying *any* innocent human being?

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

Fred, pro choice voters are not looking to you to determine any "musts" here. That is the point.

Rhett Segall
1 year 11 months ago

Joe Biden sadly disappoints.
Legal abortion frees men of responsibility for supporting women with whom they get pregnant. Men pressure women to abort and encourage a social atmosphere that praises abortion as a profound example of a woman's right to choose. No doubt as to why many men support Roe. But Roe subjects women to men's hormones and diminishes what men hold most glorious about women--their radical nurturing of life.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Precisely. Paul VI nailed it in Humanae Vitae. One can only pray on this Pentecost day that the Holy Spirit will enlighten minds to see the light of that prophetic document.

Alfredo S.
1 year 11 months ago

Dupl.

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

Rhett, do you hear yourself? Thanks for clarifying that abortion politics are in fact all about men. You poor babies. You might be forced to discover that what you "hold most glorious about women" is not, after all, the most important reality. You poor babies. And, you know, I think your wish to be dazzled by the glory of women as baby-makers supercedes women themselves. I promise to vote against anything that might disturb your fantasy because I know now that that is what God wants from women: be what men want us to be. But only what the good men want us to be, only the men who "hold as most glorious" what happens inside our uterus. After all, good men want to put a baby in a uterus every time he puts his penis in a vagina because they think it is"glorious" women can do that for them. I promise to do everything I can to encode in law your right to have the State compell involuntarily continued pregnancies of little girls whose fathers raped them after the 10 year old had menstrual period/teens who are raped by football players/nuns who are raped by priests and bishops/ women who are raped by prison guards and strangers and bosses. You think it is "glorious" that little girls who haven't learned to use a sanitary pad yet and nuns who have never been kissed have babies after they are raped. I am all over it now that I understand. Forced pregnancy for all because men think pregnancy is glorious. Thank you for helping me see the light, Rhett!

Rhett Segall
1 year 11 months ago

Yes, men can be cruel sinners and need to be called to account. But J, the women I know, wife, mother, 6 sisters, girl friends galore, they love men who are truly men: strong, protective, providers, gentle, friends. They certainly don't love their husbands, brothers, friends, etc. only as strong and only as providers. But there is a masculinity which speaks and is endearing and the women I know, Mom, wife, children, friends, cherish this masculinity deeply. And the men I know, Dad, brothers, friends, associates, love the femininity of the women who are so dear to us; their attentiveness, their charm , physical loveliness, their spontaneous nurturing of life. When a woman kills the life within her it deeply cuts into what most makes her her.

J Jones
1 year 11 months ago

Rhett, this has zero to do with whether men are sinners and zero to do with your beliefs about "what makes her her". Again, thank you for making clear that your anti-abortion beliefs are rooted in your desires for yourself.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago

J - aren't your own pro-abortion beliefs rooted in putting your desires over the babies? If the right to kill an unborn child is central to what feminism is, as you claim, then it is a power-grabbing death-cult, pure and simple. Can't you conceive of a better way to affirm the human rights both of women and their children in their wombs?

Charles Erlinger
1 year 11 months ago

Professor M. Kathleen Kaveny, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, in 2009 attributed the intractably divisive nature of the abortion issue to this:

“The paramount reason stems from the fact that the legalization of abortion in this country was not achieved by legislation but rather by a judicial decision at the highest level of the federal court system.” She continues,

“Short of banning abortion by an amendment to the American Constitution…what was done can only be undone by a decision of the Supreme Court reversing or greatly restricting its own decision in Roe V. Wade.” (see complete citation below)

Professor Kaveny characterizes the resultant societal division over the issue, led by the decision’s proponents and opponents, as a kind of cataclysmic clash between opposing prophets of the Old Testament variety. The prophets on both sides of the dispute have been assured by supporters of a dependable base dedicated to their own moral righteousness. They are regarded, and regard themselves, as having been called to pronounce God’s expectations and the consequences of failing these expectations, to their opponents. In the sphere of righteousness, these opposing calls tend inevitably to higher and higher degrees of purity and mutual exclusivity.

The drift of the prophetically characterized issue of abortion from the sphere of righteousness to the sphere of democratic political feasibility has occurred in possibly the manner that is least likely of all possible ways to provide an atmosphere amenable to conflict resolution. Followers of the opposing prophets have formed teams. They have their respective uniforms and ceremonies (hats, t-shirts, banners, cheers and jeers, parades, and so on).

But the thing that they are championing or challenging was not born of a democratic political contest. It was given birth by the Supreme Court. The contesting teams are vying to hit the most home runs. But the score that counts is how many predisposed Supreme Court judges one side or the other can appoint. And after one side or the other wins, no member of either team will have changed his or her own moral decision making process, because the game of moral persuasion will never have been played (at least at the championship level).

Extracted from Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law, Alasdair MacIntyre and Critics Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham. Notre Dame, Indiana: UNDP, 2009.
Essay by M. Cathleen Kaveny, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Christopher macdonald
1 year 11 months ago

The argument of " Personally, I disagree with abortion, but I support a women's right to chose" holds very little credibility. Not a single Democratic contender is willing to take a stand against abortion. This party attracted me because its platform protected the vulnerable and the discarded of society. Why are babies excluded from this liberal ideal? When one dehumanizes life by defining a living baby as a fetus, the act of murder becomes easier to carry out. Because the truth of the act becomes disguised in medical jargon and procedure as a safe alternative to the beauty of created life. Please stop applauding abortion as a basic human right. Abortion is murder!

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