Biden reverses long-held position on abortion funding amid criticism

Article Image

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he now wants to repeal a ban on federal funds being used for abortion, reversing his position on the Hyde Amendment the day after he was attacked by his 2020 Democratic rivals over his position.

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 8:09 AM


Former Vice President Joe Biden says he now wants to throw out the Hyde Amendment, dropping his long-held support for the measure that blocks federal funds from being used for most abortions amid criticism from his 2020 Democratic rivals.

"If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code," he said.

The Hyde Amendment is a four-decade-old ban on federal dollars being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger.

Biden's campaign on Wednesday said he still supported the Hyde Amendment -- a position that put him to the right of all other leading 2020 Democratic contenders, as well as Hillary Clinton and the party's platform in 2016.

Biden told the crowd Thursday night he had changed his mind because Republican state lawmakers have enacted "extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights" protected by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, making access to abortions more difficult for women who cannot afford the procedure or travel to obtain it.

He said he makes "no apologies" for his previous support for the Hyde Amendment.

"But circumstances have changed. I've been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race and I've been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents," Biden said.

He said he wants to achieve "universal coverage" and "provide for the full range of health services women need" through the continued expansion of Medicaid and offering a "public option" that would allow people to join Medicare.

"I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to ... exercise their constitutionally protected right," he said.

"Folks, the times have changed. I don't think these guys are going to let up," Biden said, referring to Republicans.

Biden had faced criticism from women's health and pro-abortion rights organizations, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

But groups that had criticized Biden on Wednesday quickly praised him after his reversal on Thursday.

"We're glad that Joe Biden listened to the voices of millions of women and further clarified his position on the Hyde Amendment. Let's be clear, the Hyde Amendment discriminates against all women but particularly poor women and women of color," NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood, tweeted: "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."

His 2020 Democratic foes had also sharply criticized him Wednesday, when NBC News first reported that -- despite video of Biden telling an ACLU volunteer in South Carolina last month that the Hyde Amendment "can't stay" -- his campaign said he actually supported the measure.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said while campaigning in Indiana that the Hyde Amendment denies abortion rights to "people who don't have money" and that's "just not right."

"No woman's access to reproductive health care should be based on how much money she has. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment," California Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted: "Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats."

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pledged on Twitter to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

"The vice president is absolutely wrong on this one. This is going to deny necessary health care to lower-income women and disproportionately to women who live in communities of color," former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke told CNN on Wednesday night.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Columbus
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather