Former Vice President Joe Biden made waves Wednesday when he reaffirmed his support for the Hyde Amendment, a law that prevents federal funds being used to pay for abortions.
On Thursday, after the other Democratic candidates sounded their support for repealing the amendment, Biden reversed his position at a fundraising event in Georgia.
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that would make that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” Biden said.
Before yesterday, Biden’s campaign went on record saying the candidate would be open to repealing the amendment if Roe v. Wade was threatened.
Until his announcement, Biden appeared to be the only Democratic candidate who didn’t support repeal in a Democratic environment that’s increasingly opposed to the amendment, according to the Hill. In 2016, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Convention added the position to their platforms.
Prior to this week, Biden has had a long history with the Hyde Amendment, according to a story by NBC News.
The Hyde Amendment passed originally as part of an appropriations bill in 1976, sponsored by Republican Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, when Biden was a senator for Delaware. At the time, danger to a woman’s life was the only exception to the ban on federal funds being used for abortion.
In late 1977, the Senate tried to broaden the exceptions to include rape and incest for the 1978 bill. Biden voted against that proposed change.
Though the amendment passed with the new language, the Supreme Court decided in 1980 that the sole exception should be threats to a woman’s life. When the language was up for debate in 1981, Biden again voted against expanding exceptions to cases of rape and incest.
Since Wednesday, most of the candidates have made public statements calling for repealing the Hyde Amendment.
Other candidate responses
Defenders of women and their health care rights have agreed for decades: the Hyde Amendment is federally sanctioned discrimination. It is wrong and should be overturned immediately.
— Michael Bennet (@MichaelBennet) June 5, 2019
The Hyde Amendment is a threat to reproductive rights that punishes women and families who already struggle with access to adequate health care services. pic.twitter.com/oxza4Odg8t
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) June 5, 2019
At an event in Ames in late May, Bullock supported repealing the amendment when asked by an ACLU Rights for All voter. “Yes, it should be repealed,” he said. “It’s not unlike Medicaid expansion. How wealthy we are shouldn’t define the healthcare we receive.”
On his campaign website, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has committed to support for safe, legal abortion and to repealing the Hyde Amendment “…so that those in need can access care equitably.”
In a town hall with MSNBC on Monday, Buttigieg said, “So, I think that every candidate for the Democratic nomination ought to be able to demonstrate our commitment to women`s reproductive freedom, especially the candidates who are not themselves women…It`s why, if you visit our website, you will see our commitment to repealing the Hyde amendment, our commitment to making sure that judicial appointments are those who share my view that freedom includes freedom to make decisions about your own body, and making sure that we adequately fund the whole range, the whole spectrum of reproductive health services, which, of course, includes abortion care, but is not limited to that.”
All women should have access to reproductive care, regardless of their income or the state they live in. Abortion care is health care—it's time to repeal the #HydeAmendment.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) June 5, 2019
Bill De Blasio
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 5, 2019
In an interview with NowThis today, 2020 hopeful @JohnDelaney gave his first public comments on the Hyde Amendment: 'I think women should have access to legal abortion care, and the Hyde Amendment kind of gets in the way of that for a lot of women.'
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 5, 2019
In April, ThinkProgress reported that Gabbard supported using federal money to help fund abortion services. Her support for Hyde specifically is unclear.
Repealing the Hyde Amendment is critical so that low-income women in particular can have access to the reproductive care they need and deserve.
Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) June 5, 2019
No woman's access to reproductive health care should be based on how much money she has. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 5, 2019
At a time when women's rights are under attack, we need to stand tall for our values. The #HydeAmendent actively harms women by limiting access and choice. It needs to be repealed.
— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) June 5, 2019
I voted against the Hyde Amendment in 1993. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Reproductive health care is health care. Period.
— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) June 5, 2019
Klobuchar is a co-sponsor on a bill in the Senate that supports reversing the Hyde Amendment and she reiterated that position when she appeared on MSNBC on Thursday.
ThinkProgress reported in April that Messam also supports using federal money to fund abortion, but his views on the Hyde Amendment are unclear.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It’s our job as men to show up for women when their rights are under attack. The Hyde Amendment is bad policy and I’ll never support it. #MenforChoice #StoptheBans https://t.co/oswNdb6905
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) June 6, 2019
No matter your income or where you live, every woman should have access to health care including abortion. https://t.co/UqTwmmMFDD
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) June 5, 2019
The Hyde Amendment is a tax on millions of Americans seeking abortion. It’s wrong and should be repealed. Access to abortion care shouldn’t be limited by your zip code, income, or health care provider. It is a RIGHT https://t.co/yO2H3CaIOb
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) June 5, 2019
There is #NoMiddleGround on women’s rights. Abortion is a constitutional right. Under my Medicare for All plan, we will repeal the Hyde Amendment.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 5, 2019
In addition to his tweet, a June 6 press release repeated Sanders’ support for repealing the Hyde Amendment.
“If we believe that a woman has the constitutional right to control her own body, that right must apply to ALL women, including low-income women. That is why I have consistently voted against the Hyde Amendment and, why as president, I would eliminate it.”
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) June 5, 2019
The immoral Hyde Amendment should not be the law. I’ll fight like hell to overturn it. Every time we deny women access to safe, legal abortion, we put their lives in danger. #WarrenTownHall
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 6, 2019
Expanding on her tweet, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Biden was wrong to support the Hyde Amendment in a town hall with MSNBC on Wednesday.
“We do not pass laws that take away that freedom from the women who are most vulnerable,” Warren said. “Understand this, women of means will still have access to abortions. 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, will be very young women, will be women who’ve been raped, will be women who have been molested by someone in their own family.”
Activist Marianne Williamson has confirmed to Huffington Post that she supports repealing the Hyde Amendment.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has also confirmed to Huffington Post that he supports repealing the amendment.
by Nikoel Hytrek
Photo by Julie Fleming