Far-left Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano reportedly helped persuade former vice president and 2020 White House front runner Joe Biden to flip-flop on his past support for the Hyde Amendment.
Joe Biden reversed course Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.
The Atlantic reported Friday that people inside and out of the Biden campaign challenged the White House hopeful over his views, prompting him to swiftly cave on his stance’s held for decades.
Symone Sanders, one of Biden’s senior advisers, confronted him, she confirmed to me Thursday night, telling Biden that he was missing how his position disproportionately affected poorer women and women of color without easy access to abortion. Alyssa Milano, the actress who’s become a major online presence on issues of women’s rights as well as a friend of the Biden team, spoke by phone Wednesday to Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz, telling him the candidate needed to change. More calls came in, more tough conversations.
Milano ignited social media with a tweet last month calling for women to join her in a sex strike to protest strict abortion bans passed by Republican-controlled legislatures.
Our reproductive rights are being erased.
Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy.
JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
The former star of Charmed and current cast member of Netflix’s Insatiable, which is filmed in Georgia, urged women in her tweet to stop having sex “until we get bodily autonomy back.” Her tweet came days after Georgia became the fourth state in the U.S. this year to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. She faced blowback from her over 3.5 million Twitter followers for defending Biden against accusations of unwanted touching, calling him “a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years.”
The former vice president’s reversal on the Hyde Amendment came after rivals and women’s rights groups blasted him for affirming through campaign aides that he still supported the decades-old budget provision. The dynamics had been certain to flare up again at Democrats’ first primary debate in three weeks.
“We now see so many Republican governors denying health care to the millions of most poorest and most vulnerable Americans by refusing even Medicare expansion,” Biden said at a Democrat Party fundraiser in Atlanta. “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe health care is a right, which I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”
Biden didn’t mention this week’s attacks, saying his decision was about health care, not politics. Yet the circumstances highlight the risks for a 76-year-old former vice president who’s running as more of a centrist in a party where some skeptical activists openly question whether he can be the party standard-bearer in 2020.
Planned Parenthood praised the presidential candidate’s flip-flop, but contended that he still has a ways to go when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.
“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,” Planned Parenthood CEO Dr. Leana Wen said in a statement.
Yet not everyone is applauding Biden’s sudden U-turn on the Hyde Amendment. Appearing Friday on CNN’s New Day, former top Obama strategist David Axelrod mused that the abrupt switch could be a troubling sign of things to come.
“I think that this was a parable about Biden that goes to question marks about his candidacy,” Axelrod said. “His rollout was flawless in my view and he’s had a very solid spring, but this underscores questions that people have had about whether he can go the distance.”
“[I]t raises questions about his own performance and his own steadiness and his campaign’s performance,” he added.
Other Democrat advisors were dismissive of the move as well.
“I am not clear that Joe Biden believes unequivocally that every single woman has the right to make decisions about her body, regardless of her income or race,” former Hillary Clinton strategist Jess Morales Rocketto stated. “It is imperative that the Democratic nominee believe that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.