News Release

Biden’s Flip, Flops

JODI JACOBSON, jacobsonjodi at gmail.com, @jljacobson
Jacobson is president and editor-in-chief of Rewire.News, which reports on “reproductive and sexual health, rights, and justice, and the intersections of racial, environmental, immigration and economic justice.”

She just wrote the piece “Biden Now Says He No Longer Supports Hyde. That Is Not Enough.”

Jacobson writes: “Biden flipped again. Speaking in Atlanta, Biden said he now supports overturning Hyde because ‘I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to (access) their constitutionally protected right.’

“According to CNN, Biden told the crowd he had changed his mind because Republican state lawmakers have enacted ‘extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights’ protected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wadedecision, making access to abortions more difficult for women who cannot afford the procedure or travel to obtain it.’ …

“Taken together, these statements reveal a profound misunderstanding of what the Hyde Amendment does. … During floor debate on the amendment in 1976, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) for whom the amendment is named, asserted he ‘would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the HEW [Health, Education, and Welfare] Medicaid bill.’

“Hyde is not relevant because there are now more restrictions — it’s a restriction that has most deeply harmed low-income people and people of color by denying them abortion care. For the people affected by Hyde, it does not matter if there is one abortion provider or 60 abortion providers in a given state, because the issue is the means for paying for medical care, in the same way that it does not matter if someone lives within a ten-mile radius of 100 dentists but does not have money for dental care. Hyde is the long-standing precursor to every restriction that has come since. And it’s one Democrats helped sustain year after year, revealing that when it came to low-income people and people of color in need of abortion care, politics has always been prioritized over health and human rights.

“Biden did not begin to acknowledge the fact that Democrats, for all their pro-choice platforms and promises, have never fully supported access to abortion care. In the 2008 presidential campaign, for example, Barack Obama pledged to end Hyde. When he became president, he did not bother to pretend to fight it; the Obama administration included the amendment in every one of his administration’s budgets. And we know who his vice president was.”

NBC News reports: “As a U.S. senator from Delaware, Biden voted against a 1977 compromise that allowed Medicaid to fund abortions that included exceptions for victims of rape and incest in addition to concerns for the life of the mother. While the rape and incest exceptions passed in that case, Biden voted in 1981 to again remove them, in what was the most far-reaching ban on federal funds ever enacted by Congress. …

“Biden also voted several times, including in 1983, to prohibit federal workers from using health insurance on abortion services, with the only exception being to save the life of the mother.”