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Joe Biden’s Views on Abortion Are Unacceptable

Joe Biden speaks from a podium at a campaign event.

Last month, an ACLU volunteer asked Joe Biden if he supports the lifting of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, or necessity to save the life of the pregnant person). “Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which hurts poor women and women of color?” the volunteer asked.

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Biden’s answer was an unequivocal “Yes. Yes.”

He went on to tell her that he has a “near-perfect voting record” from the ACLU. She replied that she knew that and reiterated that she was “glad you just said you would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment.”

“Right now it has to be,” he said. “It can’t stay.”

As it turns out, Biden was either lying about his commitment to getting rid of the Hyde Amendment or he didn’t know what he was agreeing to but didn’t want to ask. NBC says that his campaign confirmed that Biden does indeed still support the Hyde Amendment. He’s the only 2020 Democratic candidate to explicitly say as much, and every female senator in the 2020 race is co-sponsoring legislation to overturn Hyde.

Biden’s campaign insists that his views on abortion rights have “evolved” over his long career. And I would sure hope so. When Biden arrived in the Senate in 1973, he thought Roe v. Wade “went too far.” He specifically said, “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

In his own words in 1977, he said that he has “consistently supported” the exclusion of using Medicaid funds for abortion unless the pregnant person’s life is in danger. He told a constituent he “did not support” expanding the circumstances under which women could access public funds for abortion. In 1981, he was one of only two Democrats to vote to exclude victims of rape and incest from accessing federal funds for abortion. In 1986, he told the Catholic Diocese Newspaper that “abortion is wrong from the moment of conception.”

So yes, I certainly hope there’s been some evolution there. But it’s pretty obvious that he’s still refusing to listen to the people actually affected by these policies. The Hyde Amendment disproportionately affects poor women and women of color who may not have the money to pay out of pocket for an abortion.

NBC writes that the Biden campaign told them “he would be open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened.” That means he’s not paying attention to the speed at which those avenues are already disappearing in states across the country.

He also wasn’t listening to that ACLU volunteer who asked him a direct question about the Hyde Amendment. He very clearly was just telling her what he knew she wanted to hear.

This isn’t even close to the first time he’s done so. Biden constantly tells us he “gets it,” when he absolutely does not. He promised he understood why so many people were upset with his habit of being overly physically familiar with women he’d just met. He did not.

He told his advisors that he understood why he shouldn’t straight-up lie about having marched in the Civil Rights Movement. He did not.

Joe Biden is one of the most centrist candidates in the race and if that’s where your politics lie, that’s fine. But he’s attempting to adopt the image of a progressive Democrat while remaining as firmly middle-of-the-road as possible—and the only way he can do that is by waving off the needs of the people he’s running to serve, telling us he’s listening, that he “gets it,” when he refuses to even learn what “it” is that people care about.

If there’s one thing Biden and Trump have in common, it’s pretending to be an expert on things they definitely don’t understand.

(image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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