Abortion is currently a larger part of the national political conversation than it has been in many years. This is perhaps due to both the passage of restrictive abortion bans by several states, and the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court coming closer to overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which, broadly speaking, legalized abortion.
Now, the Democratic frontrunner for president has made a surprising declaration about the issue.
Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joseph Biden continues to support the Hyde Amendment, a law passed in 1976 which banned most use of federal funds for abortion — except for cases of rape, incest, and where the mother’s life may be in danger. Biden’s campaign confirmed the candidate’s support for the amendment to NBC News.
The declaration comes despite a video having been posted to the Twitter account of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last month — one in which Biden, in a rope line in South Carolina, appeared to commit to overturning the Hyde Amendment.
Most Democratic presidential candidates are opposed to the Hyde Amendment. Four female senators and presidential candidates — Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — are among the cosponsors of legislation to overturn the law. In 2016, the Democratic platform called for the end of the Hyde Amendment.
Biden, who has come out strongly in recent weeks against the state-level abortion bans, has held conflicting views on the abortion issue throughout his long political career, per NBC News. In the 1970s and 1980s, Biden voted several times against allowing exceptions for rape and incest in bills endorsing the application of Medicare resources for cases of abortion. Biden has said that, as a Catholic, he is personally opposed to abortion. However, he has also committed himself to protecting Roe v. Wade as an elected official. His views on abortion were not a significant source of public controversy during the Obama campaigns or administrations.
“Yet his presidential campaign confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment.” Mmm hmmm. https://t.co/ZYZ61LawPj
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) June 5, 2019
Planned Parenthood issued a statement that was critical of Biden’s position.
“We encourage any candidate who doesn’t recognize Hyde’s impact to speak to the women it hurts most — particularly women of color and women with low incomes — to learn more about the harmful impacts of this discriminatory policy,” Kelly Robinson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive director, told NBC in a statement.
The Hyde Amendment, passed three years after Roe v. Wade, was introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois. However, it has been amended various times over the years.