Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden has withdrawn his support for the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion, saying he would abolish the amendment if elected president.
Despite his consistent support for abortion-rights legislation, Mr. Biden has always voted against taxpayer funding for the procedure, a position he now repudiates, noted John McCormack in the National Review.
Asked on video about his current stance regarding the 1976 Hyde Amendment, Biden told an ACLU volunteer he was committed to abolishing the provision, saying: “It can’t stay.”
Our volunteer Nina asked Joe Biden whether, as president, he would lift the Hyde amendment, which bans federal insurance coverage of abortion.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 8, 2019
Mr. Biden’s swing left on the abortion issue represents a significant change for the 76-year-old politician, who has prided himself on his “moderate” stance.
“I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them,” Biden wrote in 1994. “As you may know, I have consistently — on no fewer than 50 occasions — voted against federal funding of abortions.”
And in his 2007 book Promises to Keep, Mr. Biden wrote: “I’ve stuck to my middle-of-the-road position on abortion for more than 30 years.”
“I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding,” he added.
In point of fact, Biden’s move to embrace taxpayer funding of abortion is just the latest step in an ongoing evolution on the issue.
As The New York Times noted, Mr. Biden was pro-life when he began his Senate career in 1973 and argued at the time that the Supreme Court had gone “too far” in the Roe v. Wade decision.
While Biden’s change of heart regarding taxpayer-funded abortion may place him more in line with his Democrat opponents, it galvanizes him as a pro-abortion candidate and hurts his standing among pro-life Democrats.
“Biden is making a critical error flip-flopping on his position on the Hyde Amendment,” Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, told National Review. “Among the current top-tier candidates, there is not a single one who is considering pro-life Democratic voters.”
According to Ms. Day, Biden “is catering to the vocal minority who is pushing an abortion extremist agenda that will not resonate with general election voters.”
Biden’s support for taxpayer funding for abortion also undermines his already precarious relationship with the Catholic Church, which considers abortion to be gravely evil.
In a 2016 column in his diocesan newspaper, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput took issue with both Joe Biden and Tim Kaine for their open dissent from Catholic teaching on the abortion issue.
These two “prominent Catholics,” the archbishop said, “both seem to publicly ignore or invent the content of their Catholic faith as they go along.”
This was not the first time that the archbishop had crossed swords with Mr. Biden over abortion.
Criticizing Biden’s 2008 interview on Meet the Press, Chaput said that the senator had used “a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can’t ‘impose’ their religiously based views on the rest of the country.”
“But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion,” Chaput said.