One of the only pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives is claiming former Vice President Joe Biden was pressured to adopt extreme views on abortion in order to succeed in the 2020 race.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who earlier this month lost his own primary for renomination over the issue of abortion, told the National Catholic Register on Tuesday that pro-choice groups had established veto power over who can and cannot run under the Democratic Party’s banner. In particular, the congressman cited Biden’s decision to abandon his decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortion, as proof of the newfound influence of these organizations.
“He was always in favor of the Hyde Amendment and opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion, but when he announced he was running for president, he felt running in the Democratic presidential primary he had to change his position,” Lipinski said, citing the hefty sum groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood spend in electing Democrats to office.
“Those groups are likely the reason that these Democrats running for president understand that they can’t have these groups opposing them,” he added. “That’s why they take the extreme position on abortion.”
Lipinski’s comments underscore the tight rope pro-life Democrats – and even those holding moderate, albeit pro-choice views – have to walk in today’s political environment. This has has been no more clear than in Biden’s case.
In June of last year, the former vice president set off a firestorm on the left by reaffirming his commitment to the Hyde Amendment. Although Biden had voted for the rule continuously over the span of his 40-year political career, the public acknowledgment drew the ire of pro-choice groups and activists. Some, like NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, even claimed Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendement translated “into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple.”
In the wake of such criticism, Biden attempted to appease his detractors by pledging to continue supporting the rule unless women were in a position to lose access to abortion. That waffling, though, did nothing to allay concerns from pro-choice activists, with many echoing Planned Parenthood by claiming continued support for the rule was “harmful” to women. After such denunciation and pressure from the likes of Hollywood’s Alyssa Milano, Biden eventually acquiesced, expressing that “times had changed.”