- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

The deputy campaign manager for Joseph R. Biden’s presidential campaign on Friday cited a “moment of crisis” on abortion rights in trying to explain Mr. Biden’s announcing on Thursday he was dropping his support for the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for most abortions he had backed for decades.

“The vice president feels like in this moment of crisis on choice, that he does not want to be foreclosing off any avenue for women receiving the health care that they need,” Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign, said on CNN.

Ms. Bedingfield characterized it as a “tough personal decision” for Mr. Biden and said he’s been an advocate for women’s choice his entire career.

“I think to suggest that this is somehow out of step or out of sync with the way that he’s viewed this issue is actually not true,” she said.

She was repeatedly asked exactly how the decision was made, since Mr. Biden’s campaign was saying as recently as Wednesday that he still supported the amendment.

Even that position was an apparent shift from last month, when he told an ACLU activist he favored abolishing the amendment. Mr. Biden’s campaign said this week before his latest shift that he misheard the activist’s question.

“You’ve heard him say,” Ms. Bedingfield said. “As he’s thinking about his health care plan … and he’s thinking about access and he’s thinking about how we ensure that in a moment when choice is under fire, when Republican-led state legislatures are coming after choice, how do we make sure that every woman who needs access to health care gets it.”

“That’s going to be a piece of his plan when he rolls out his health care plan, and as he was working through that he decided in this moment of crisis that he could no longer be for something that would close off those avenues to women,” she said.

Asked again what the process behind his thinking was, she said: “You heard him say it. You’ve asked the question a lot of ways; I’ve answered it.”

“I don’t think you’ve answered it, Kate,” anchor Brianna Keilar replied.

Mr. Biden did cite recent GOP-led efforts to restrict abortion as part of his rationale for the most recent shift, and said Thursday he wasn’t going to make any apologies for his positions.

“Circumstances have changed,” he said. “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.”

The Hyde Amendment dates back to 1976, and generally bans federal money from directly funding abortions. But abortion rights groups and Democrats say that it closes off services for many lower-income and minority women who might rely on programs like Medicaid for their health care.

Mr. Biden also took some heat this week after passages in his plan to tackle climate change were found to have mirrored language from other sources. He had already faced accusations of plagiarism during his failed 1988 presidential bid.

Ms. Bedingfield chalked things up to a “staff-level error” Mr. Biden was not aware of, and said it was one that was quickly corrected.

Ms. Keilar then asked whether telling a reporter Mr. Biden still supported the Hyde Amendment for a story published Wednesday was also a “staff-level error,” or whether that was something the former vice president himself was behind.

“The vice president makes his decisions about where he stands on issues — those are his decisions alone,” Ms. Bedingfield said.

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