Joe Biden Flip-Flops Back to Supporting Hyde Amendment to Downplay Support for Abortions Up to Birth

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 5, 2019   |   11:54AM   |   Washington, DC

Joe Biden may be the first Democratic presidential candidate to realize that forcing taxpayers to fund abortions is a losing proposition. With polling data showing most Americans opposing taxpayer-funded abortions, Biden is now flip-flopping on his position on the Hyde Amendment.

In a a clear attempt to downplay his radical abortion position, Biden now says he supports the Hyde Amendment — which prohibits taxpayer funding of most abortions.

NBC News reports:

[Joe Biden’s] presidential campaign confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, a four-decade-old ban on using federal funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

Biden’s continued support for Hyde not only sets him apart from the rest of his 2020 Democratic competitors, but it may surprise progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which promoted a recent tweet by one of its activists appearing to get Biden to commit to ending Hyde during a rope-line exchange in South Carolina. Biden’s campaign told NBC he would be open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened.

Just last month, Biden said he supported forcing Americans to pay for abortions. “It can’t stay,” Biden said of the Hyde amendment during an exchange with an ACLU activist earlier this month. The video of the exchange was posted by the ACLU on Twitter on May 8th

Here’s the transcript of that exchange between Biden and an ACLU activist [emphasis added]:

ACLU Activist: I’m an ACLU Rights For All voter, and I have one quick question for you. And that is: Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde amendment, which hurts poor women and—

Biden: Yes…. Yes. And by the way, ACLU member, I have a near-perfect voting record my entire career.

ACLU: I heard you did. But I’m glad you just said you would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment.

Biden: Right now it has to be… It can’t stay.

Biden clearly answered “yes” and “it can’t stay” when asked if he’d “commit to abolishing the Hyde amendment.” But now that has changed.

John McCormack of National Review responded to the flip-flop:

Did Biden not recall what the Hyde amendment was when the ACLU activist asked him the question? The activist described it as a measure “which hurts poor women” and didn’t mention abortion. But every elected member of Congress knows what the Hyde amendment is. Did he look at the polls showing American voters support the Hyde amendment by a 22-point margin, and decide to flip back?

In either case, it is odd that the Biden campaign waited two weeks to clarify the candidate’s position after the Washington Post reported that Biden opposed the Hyde amendment. On May 19, Post reporter David Weigel flagged the video (posted on Twitter on May 8 by the ACLU) and wrote: “What has changed in the past weeks is that even Democrats seen as “moderate” have come around to the left’s abortion position. Pressed by an ACLU-trained voter in South Carolina, Joe Biden said he wanted to kill the Hyde Amendment, which he had voted for. ‘It can’t stay,’ he said, after being pressed twice.”

On May 20, I also reported that Biden had flipped on the Hyde amendment. I contacted the Biden campaign that day by email for comment but received no response. Two weeks later, the Biden campaign is telling NBC News that Biden supports the Hyde amendment, albeit with the confusing caveat that Biden would be “open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened,” as NBC paraphrases his campaign’s statement.

Biden will surely be pressed at some point to clear up the confusion he created, but his official endorsement of the Hyde amendment is good news for pro-lifers. The more politicians who support the Hyde amendment, the better. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, “Since 1976, the best research indicates that the Hyde Amendment has saved over two million unborn children.”

Polling data is clear that Americans oppose abortion funding.

A January poll conducted by Marist University finds an overwhelming majority of Americans support restrictions on abortion and would like Roe v. Wade reinterpreted to allow restrictions on abortions. It also found that three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion abroad, fewer than two in 10 (19 percent) support such funding. Opposition to this funding includes most Republicans (94 percent) and independents (80 percent) and a majority of Democrats (56 percent).

By a double-digit margin, a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent).

Despite the confusion, Biden is still an ardent abortion supporter.

Biden has a strong pro-abortion voting record that goes back for many years, and he supported President Barack Obama’s leadership as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history. What’s more, pro-abortion movement leaders say they “trust” Biden to protect abortion on demand. As the vice president, he supported the administration’s pro-abortion policies, including Obamacare, which forced religious employers to pay for drugs that may cause abortions.

From 2001 to 2008, Biden’s voting record on pro-life issues was close to zero, according to the National Right to Life Committee. In 2005, for example, he voted against the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits funding to overseas groups that promote and/or perform abortions. He also voted repeatedly to require that military service members’ abortions be covered by taxpayer dollars.

Kate Michelman, a former leader of NARAL, is not worried.

“Joe Biden continued his evolution on the issue under Obama. He got there,” she told the newspaper. “I can’t say for absolute, 100 percent, but I would trust him as president to protect and defend a women’s right to choose.”

To show how far Biden has come toward the pro-abortion view, he once likened an abortion to an operation — as if taking the life of a baby before birth is somehow beneficial in the same manner as a patient’s operation.

Biden said: “Maybe where Romney is most sketchy is on women’s rights. I got a daughter and lost a daughter. I’ve got four granddaughters and Barack has two daughters. And this is to our core. Our daughters and our granddaughters are entitled to every single solitary operation, every single solitary opportunity!”