ATLANTA – After two days of intense criticism, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course on Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on the use of federal health care money. to pay for abortions.
Biden’s reversal came after rivals and women’s rights groups criticized him for asserting through his campaign aides that he still supported the Hyde Amendment. With the change, Biden hopes to limit any damage from the groups of women and progressives who are already skeptical about whether a white man of 76 years and more centrist can be the standard bearer of the party in 2020.
Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta, Biden did not mention the attacks he suffered this week, but tacitly agreed with his critics, who saw the Hyde Amendment as another barrier against abortion that disproportionately affects poor women and of color. He said the new restrictions in states led by Republicans like Georgia and Alabama justify their change.
“I have been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said, opening a speech dedicated primarily to voting rights and issues important to the black community with an explanation of a significant policy change.
“I want to be clear: I do not apologize for my last position. I do not apologize for what I’m going to say, “he explained, arguing that” circumstances have changed. ”
Biden, a Roman Catholic who has publicly fought abortion for decades, said he voted as a senator to support the Hyde Amendment because he believed women would still have access to abortion even without Medicaid insurance and other federal health care grants. Of the health. Now, he says, there are too many barriers that threaten that constitutional right.
A representative of Planned Parenthood applauded Biden’s reversal but noted that he has been behind the women’s rights movement on this issue.
“I’m happy to see Joe Biden embrace what we’ve known for a long time: Hyde prevents people, especially women of color and low-income women, from accessing safe and legal abortion services,” said Leana Wen, of Planned Parenthood, the giant of women’s health whose services include abortion and abortion referrals.
Hyde has become a defining norm for Democrats in recent years, making once a more common position among Democrats more unsustainable, particularly given the dynamics of primary policy by 2020.