“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without the health care they need... If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support [the amendment],” he said.
The Hyde Amendment, which Biden voted in support of as a senator in 1976, bars federal funds from going toward abortion procedures. Since launching his campaign, Biden had drawn criticism for his continued support of the measure.
That Biden announced his Hyde reversal in Georgia is also significant: Last month, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a particularly extreme restriction on abortion procedures. The measure, a so-called “heartbeat bill,” effectively bans any abortion procedures after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Georgia is only one of many states to recently pass restrictive abortion legislation or attempt to curb access to the procedure. In April, Ohio lawmakers passed a similar so-called “heartbeat bill,” and Alabama legislators last month passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country, banning it altogether and making it a felony offense for any doctor to perform it. Last week, the last abortion clinic in Missouri was almost shut down, but a circuit court judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing it.
“State after state, including Georgia, are passing extreme laws in clear violation of the constitutional right protected by Roe ― some going so far as to deny exceptions even for rape and incest,” Jamal Brown, Biden’s national press secretary, said on Thursday, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
“It’s clear these folks will stop at nothing to get rid of Roe ― and it’s clear we have to be just as strong in our defense of it,” Brown said.
Until Thursday night, Biden was alone among his fellow 2020 front-runners, all of whom have spoken in favor of repealing Hyde.
“We’re glad that Joe Biden listened to the voices of millions of women and further clarified his position on the Hyde Amendment,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro Choice America, said Thursday in an emailed statement.
“Let’s be clear, the Hyde Amendment discriminates against all women but particularly poor women and women of color,” Hogue said. “At a time where the fundamental freedoms enshrined in Roe are under attack, we need full throated allies in our leaders.”
Mollie Reilly contributed reporting.