Former vice president Joe Biden's campaign for president confirmed Wednesday that the Delaware Democrat still supports the controversial, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, a revelation that generated intense criticism from rights groups.
Biden's support of the policy, 43 years after it was first signed into law, is a sign that the former vice president is out of step with his party.
"This puts him at odds with his own party's platform at this point," New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister tweeted, adding that Biden's position puts him "also at odds with a morally coherent position."
The Hyde Amendment, which was passed in 1976, restricts the use of federal funding for abortions. It's been cited as a major setback for abortion rights and one of the main reasons that marginalized people find it difficult to access reproductive health services.
Biden's campaign, in an article on how the current primary frontrunner has changed his views on abortion, told NBC reporter Heidi Przybyla that barring an overturning of choice nationwide, the former vice president still supports Hyde.
Yet his presidential campaign confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, a four-decade-old ban on using federal funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.
Biden's continued support for Hyde not only sets him apart from the rest of his 2020 Democratic competitors, but it may surprise progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which promoted a recent tweet by one of its activists appearing to get Biden to commit to ending Hyde during a rope-line exchange in South Carolina. Biden’s campaign told NBC he would be open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened.
The news came as a surprise to rights groups, not least the ACLU, which had celebrated Biden apparently promising to repeal the Hyde Amendment in April during a campaign event.
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
Biden's campaign told The Hill the former vice president "misheard" the question.
The Biden campaign told The Hill that Biden misheard the ACLU volunteer and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule, which prevents federal aid money from going to organizations overseas that perform abortions.
In a series of tweets, ReWire News editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson said that Biden's position showed a lack of understanding of what Hyde did under the best of circumstances—and a total misread of the current political moment.
"Even WITH Roe intact, even IF there were not myriad obstacles to abortion care despite Roe being intact, Hyde STILL HARMS people of color and low income people who can't access abortion care," said Jacobson.
"This response is even further out of touch than it seems at first glance," Jacobson added.
Even WITH Roe intact, even IF there were not myriad obstacles to abortion care despite Roe being intact, Hyde STILL HARMS people of color and low income people who can't access abortion care.
This response is even further out of touch than it seems at first glance.@JoeBiden
— Jodi Jacobson (@jljacobson) June 5, 2019
"I'd like to put it out there that this guy ain't it," Vogue editor Michelle Ruiz tweeted.
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, in a blistering statement, rejected Biden's position as discriminatory and against the principles of his party.
"There's no political or ideological excuse for Joe Biden's support for the Hyde Amendment, which translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple," said Hogue. "His position further endangers women and families already facing enormous hurdles and creates two classes of rights for people in this country, which is inherently undemocratic."