- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden may have placated progressives by switching positions on taxpayer-funded abortions, but he also put his brand at risk by swerving to the left of moderate and working-class voters at the heart of his 2020 election strategy.

Conservatives and pro-life activists argue that Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential primary front-runner, made a stunning tactical error by reversing his 40-year support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for most abortions.

“While Joe Biden may be taking a political expedient position in the Democratic primary as candidates race to the left on abortion, he will pay the price in the general election,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports pro-life candidates.

A 2016 Harvard poll showed 58 percent of voters opposed Medicaid funding for abortion, while 36 percent supported it. Until Thursday, Mr. Biden was the only top Democratic candidate who openly backed the Hyde Amendment.

Joe Biden is supposed to be the one candidate who can win back working class Democrats who backed Trump,” Ms. Dannenfelser said in a statement. “This will prove to be a fatal move should he be the nominee.”



 

 

A day after his campaign reaffirmed his Hyde Amendment support, Mr. Biden announced Thursday he had changed his mind at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Atlanta.

“For many years as a U.S. senator, I’ve supported the Hyde Amendment. So I make no apologies in my last position and I make no apologies for what I’m about to say,” Mr. Biden said. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”

He referred to red states passing bills this year restricting abortion access, notably fetal-heartbeat bills, which ban most abortions after about six weeks. None of the laws have taken effect and all are expected to be locked in court battles for years.

Mr. Biden’s stance on federal abortion funding is now essentially the same as the other top Democratic presidential contenders, boosting his primary chances on the left while weakening his claim to the moderate middle, a move that could come backfire if he wins the nomination.

“There are many Democrats — setting aside the pro-life Democrats — there are moderately pro-choice Democrats who Biden I think was right there with them, and now he’s going to tug, tug, tug over to this really shocking position that’s becoming basically mainstream in the Democratic Party,” said conservative pundit Guy Benson on Fox News.

Live Action’s Lila Rose said that there is no longer any candidate in the Democratic field that pro-lifers can support. A poll released Thursday by CNN found that 30 percent of adults would only back a candidate who shares their views on abortion, the highest percentage since 1996.

“At this point, it is morally reprehensible to vote for any Democratic candidate for president,” she tweeted. “Each one supports infanticide. Each [one] wants to use power of the gov to force Americans to fund infanticide. If you don’t vote Trump, write in another candidate. We can’t vote Dem.”

 

 

The 1976 Hyde Amendment came as a congressional compromise in the post-Roe debate by taking federal funding off the table for abortions except in cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the pregnant woman.

Pro-life groups argue that Planned Parenthood, which receives a half-billion in federal dollars each year, has long circumvented Hyde, while Planned Parenthood counters that its abortion services are not supported by federal dollars.

Planned Parenthood affiliates perform abortions in the same facilities and clinics used for other medical procedures such as STD and HIV testing.

Mr. Biden’s reversal also opens the door to questions about his stance on partial-birth abortion, which he voted to ban in 2003. The procedure is used in late-term abortions, which received a green light this year in the Illinois, New York and Vermont legislatures.

The Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature voted to repeal that state’s partial-birth abortion ban as part of its sweeping Reproductive Health Act, now at the desk of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is expected to sign it.

“His dramatic U-turn on taxpayer funded abortion is just the beginning of the Candidate Biden vs. Senator Biden abortion debate,” said Maureen Malloy Ferguson, senior fellow of the Catholic Association, in a statement.

“Does he stand by his Senate vote to ban late-term partial birth abortions, given his party’s efforts in New York, Illinois, and Virginia to allow abortion until birth?” she asked. “Next he will need to reconcile his criticism of states that have passed laws protecting unborn children, with his ‘yes’ vote on the partial-birth abortion ban.”

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, also brought up the partial-birth question, tweeting, “Following Biden’s flip-flop flop on Hyde Amendment, wonder if he stands by his vote to ban partial-birth abortions while in Senate.”

Among those who pressured Mr. Biden to change his stance was actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who talked to Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz on Wednesday, according to the Atlantic.

“Thanks, Joe. For listening to the American people. And thank you to the women who raised their voices,” Ms. Milano tweeted Thursday.

NARAL Pro-Choice America said it was “pleased that Joe Biden has joined the rest of the 2020 Democratic field in coalescing around the Party’s core values — support for abortion rights, and the basic truth that reproductive freedom is fundamental to the pursuit of equality and economic security in this country.”

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