Biden, a devout Catholic, had long favored the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for most abortions in the U.S. After facing a barrage of criticism from his rivals in the race for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, however, Biden abruptly reversed his stance last week.
Critics said the switch reeked “of insincerity.”
“It’s a legitimate criticism for them to look at,” Biden conceded, but he stressed that the “majority of the American people agree with the Hyde Amendment. … So the idea that this would be helpful to change is not accurate in terms of being able to win an election.”
Biden said his views on the issue had shifted significantly after watching several states enact draconian restrictions on abortion rights, part of the GOP-led effort to force a Supreme Court challenge over Roe v. Wade.
He said he realized that with the Hyde Amendment in place, the ability of poorer women to access abortion could be limited even further because government-funded and subsidized insurance plans would not cover the procedure.
“How do you say no? You can’t use ― there would be no way for a poor woman to be able to exercise her constitutional right, and that’s what the decision was, because I was finalizing that plan, we laid it out and that was the decision I made,” Biden said.
The New York Times reported last week that Biden had been fiercely lobbied by his own staff, allies and reproductive rights activists to change his stance on the Hyde Amendment.
But Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Biden’s campaign co-chairman, told the paper that the presidential contender had come “to this decision on his own.”
“Nobody pushed him,” Richmond said.