The Flip-Flopper: Joe Biden Reverses Long-Held Position on Hyde Amendment

Eric Schaffer | June 7, 2019

On Thursday, in a near-nonsensical twist which just about every political scientist for a mile saw coming, 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden flipped his stance on the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, is an amendment on spending bills which states that federal funds may not be allocated to fund abortion except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk or rape or incest is involved. 

Biden, who is purportedly the frontrunner of the Democratic Party's contentious primaries, has long supported restricting federal funds from going toward abortion, with few exceptions.

People should not be shocked by this new development, however. It seems as if those with short memories forget that Biden said in a May interview with an ACLU volunteer that he would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment. “It can’t stay,” Biden said.

Yet, on Wednesday, Biden’s campaign said the former Vice President still remained in favor of the Hyde Amendment and the restrictions it put on abortion funding allocation. 

Biden, at that point, had flipped from support to lack of support, to support again. Two flips.

Then, on Thursday, after only a day of being attacked by the media and radical left, Biden… flipped again. It could have been forgiven, too, if his reasoning wasn’t so vapid. 

"If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code," Biden said at a rally on Thursday. 

It gets better. According to CNN:

[H]e had changed his mind because Republican state lawmakers have enacted 'extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights' protected by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, making access to abortions more difficult for women who cannot afford the procedure or travel to obtain it.

“[C]ircumstances have changed,” Biden went on to say, “I've been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race, and I've been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents.”

Let’s break this down. The Hyde Amendment doesn’t make the abortion coverage you receive dependent on your zip code. As previously stated, it determines that federal funds may not go toward abortions in all but some circumstances. Location plays no part (where Hyde is concerned), the type of healthcare you have, Medicaid v. Private Insurance, does. 

Then, there’s Biden trying to blame Republicans for his flip, referring to new pro-life laws passed in states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio. This doesn’t quite make sense either.

Sure, one may disagree with the new pro-life legislation of certain states, but how does that merit a radical shift on the Hyde Amendment? The Hyde Amendment didn’t cause or help Georgia’s heartbeat bill. It didn’t cause Alabama’s near-abortion ban. 

While some may find the argument un-compelling, at least Biden saying, "I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to ... exercise their constitutionally protected right," makes some sense.

As the campaign continues, Biden seems to have firmly reaffirmed the suspicions of many that he is not only a gaffe machine but a flip-flopper as well.

(Cover Photo: Mark Nozell / Flickr)