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'A Quarter-Measure at Best': Despite New Stance on Hyde, Say Critics, Biden No Progressive on Reproductive Rights

Biden announced he no longer supports anti-choice amendment, but failed to address its harms over more than four decades

Pro-choice demonstration

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden's withdrawal of support for the Hyde Amendment is "a quarter-measure at best," said Rewire.News's Jodi Jacobson. (Photo: ProgressOhio/Flickr/cc)

When it comes to supporting abortion rights, Joe Biden is no progressive.

That's the message from women's healthcare advocates after the Democratic presidential candidate announced Thursday that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment while stressing that he makes "no apologies" for his previous backing of the measure that particularly impacts low-income women and women of color.

Hyde, passed in 1976, bars federal funds from being used for abortion care except in the cases of rape or incest, or if the woman's life is in danger.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Atlanta Thursday evening, Biden said, "If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code."

"I've been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents," he said, adding that "circumstances have changed" recently. Biden pointed to the wave of "extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights" enacted recently by Republican lawmakers.

"I want to be clear," said Biden. "I make no apologies for my last position."

The former vice president's reversal of position—which came the same week as he drew outrage by affirming his support for the anti-choice amendment—drew praise from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who called it "Proof that the power of women can change things."

But simply withdrawing support for Hyde is "a quarter-measure at best," said Jodi Jacobson, president and editor in chief of Rewire.News.

In fact, wrote Jacobson, Biden's new comments suggest that he doesn't grasp the real harm that amendment has caused over its 43-year life, and reveal "a brazen abrogation of his and his party's responsibility for the damage."

While recent GOP-led bans in states like Alabama and Missouri do restrict access to abortion, "Hyde has been as great a barrier to access to abortion care for low-income people as any restriction dreamed up by the fanatical anti-choice movement," she wrote.

Placing blame on the Democratic Party, Jabobson explained that the Hyde-imposed barrier has been "one Democrats helped sustain year after year, revealing that when it came to low-income people and people of color in need of abortion care, politics has always been prioritized over health and human rights."

Such archives of actions are noteworthy.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), speaking with the The Young Turks show "Rebel HQ" in an interview posted Thursday, said that "record is important because it shows a consistency in values in beliefs."

She was responding to interviewer Emma Vigeland mentioning Biden's previous declaration that he's the "most progressive candidate" and Ocasio-Cortez choosing to not endorse any of the Democratic hopefuls yet.

"I think we need a progressive president," Ocasio-Cortez told Vigeland.

Don't "say you're a progressive candidate," Ocasio-Cortez added, "but at the same time not support repealing something as basic as the Hyde Amendment."

Watch the segment below:

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