Pressed to explain his recent Hyde Amendment flip, former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Tuesday interview that political expediency had not been the reason behind his change of heart.
Biden, a devout Catholic, had long favored the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for most abortions in the U.S. After facing a barrage of criticism from his rivals in the race for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, however, Biden abruptly reversed his stance last week.
Critics said the switch reeked “of insincerity.”
But Biden, speaking to WHO-TV following a campaign event in Ottumwa, Iowa, pushed back against the suggestion that his change in attitude had been a political calculation.
“It’s a legitimate criticism for them to look at,” Biden conceded, but he stressed that the “majority of the American people agree with the Hyde Amendment. … So the idea that this would be helpful to change is not accurate in terms of being able to win an election.”
Biden said his views on the issue had shifted significantly after watching several states enact draconian restrictions on abortion rights, part of the GOP-led effort to force a Supreme Court challenge over Roe v. Wade.
He said he realized that with the Hyde Amendment in place, the ability of poorer women to access abortion could be limited even further because government-funded and subsidized insurance plans would not cover the procedure.
“How do you say no? You can’t use ― there would be no way for a poor woman to be able to exercise her constitutional right, and that’s what the decision was, because I was finalizing that plan, we laid it out and that was the decision I made,” Biden said.
Joe Biden reversed his support on the law barring federal funding for abortion, known as the Hyde Amendment.“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” https://t.co/DGxEWA32fW pic.twitter.com/iZYoQMpxhM— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 7, 2019
The New York Times reported last week that Biden had been fiercely lobbied by his own staff, allies and reproductive rights activists to change his stance on the Hyde Amendment.
But Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden’s campaign co-chairman, told the paper that the presidential contender had come “to this decision on his own.”
“Nobody pushed him,” Richmond said.
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