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Joe Biden's Reversal on the Hyde Amendment
Jun 11, 2019 at 02:41 PM

The Quick Facts

  • Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing ban on using federal health care money to fund abortions.
  • Biden had previously supported the ban, and had reaffirmed that support through campaign aids earlier in the week.
  • However, after two days of criticism of his position, he reversed course and declared he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment and believes it should be repealed.
  • Biden announced the decision at a Democratic Party fundraiser, stating: “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes it more difficult for some women to access care.”

Food For Thought

Was Joe Biden right to change his stance on the Hyde Amendment? What does the reversal say about Biden as a candidate, and the current political era?

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Jezebel

Joe Biden Can't Make Up His Mind About Whether or Not Poor Women Should Have Equal Access to Abortion

Esther Wang
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Our Commentary

This commentary by Esther Wang from Jezebel includes these types of opinions:

  • The Hyde Amendment is wrong and Joe Biden should never have supported it in the first place. Even the reasons he gave for changing his position were inadequate and show his ignorance when it comes to women's rights.
  • The main problem with Biden’s position is he acts as though abortion rights were not under attack until very recently. “It’s almost as if he hasn’t been paying attention”— conveniently forgetting that he himself pushed hard against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
  • In some ways, Biden’s reversal demonstrates how politics should work: “a candidate espouses certain views and if enough people disagree vehemently enough, then that candidate should change their mind.” But the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination shouldn’t have to be persuaded to take a stand for equal access to a constitutionally protected right.

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The Washington Post

Joe Biden learned the hard way there is no middle ground on abortion

Karen Tumulty
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Our Commentary

In this Washington Post opinion piece, Karen Tumulty offers these sorts of perspectives:

  • Joe Biden learned this week that the politics surrounding abortion have shifted dramatically in the last several decades. While it may have once been acceptable for a leading Democrat to hold some middle ground beliefs on the issue, that is no longer the case with today’s party.
  • This is partly a product of context: when abortion opponents were gaining little ground when it came to overturning Roe V. Wade, support for something like the Hyde Amendment was viewed as an acceptable compromise. But now that abortion rights are under assault, the debate has shifted back toward the question of access to abortion, and the Hyde Amendment has come under greater scrutiny.
  • As states continue to move toward banning abortion outright, “the edges of the debate are being more sharply defined.” In 2020, a middle-road stance on abortion will just not be acceptable.

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The Wall Street Journal

Biden Gives Trump-Wary Pro-Lifers Nowhere to Hyde

Matt Hawkins
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Our Commentary

In this Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Matt Hawkins makes these kinds of points:

  • Biden’s flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment will cost him down the road. He has “put himself in an even worse position than Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.”
  • During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton doubled down on her defense of abortion and refused to moderate her position, while Trump “delivered a more energetic pro-life argument than any previous presidential nominee.” This was enough for “many pro-lifers—even those disturbed by Mr. Trump—to take a chance on him.”
  • If Democrats are going to win in 2020, they need to win back independents and Republicans who have become too uncomfortable supporting Trump. “Many of those voters are pro-life, and Mr. Biden’s flip on Hyde communicates that he doesn’t want their votes.”

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The Washington Examiner

Biden’s abortion flip-flop-flip is as cowardly as it is nonsensical

Becket Adams
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Our Commentary

This opinion article by Becket Adams from The Washington Examiner expresses these types of views:

  • It was a shame to see Joe Biden “cower in the face of progressive criticism,” and suddenly reverse his position on the Hyde Amendment. Even worse, “Biden lacks even the courage to take full responsibility for this shameful and clumsy about-face,” instead blaming conservatives.
  • It is worth mentioning that Biden’s flip-flop now places him in opposition to “a position that most Americans support (against taxpayer-funded abortion).”
  • Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment has stretched back decades: he voted for it in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The fact that he reversed his position in a matter of days paints him as a “soulless opportunist who will say and do whatever it takes to finally secure the Democratic nomination.”

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