Elections

Joe Biden Embraces Taxpayer-Funded Abortion

Former Vice President Joe Biden in Manchester, N.H., May 13, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden has twisted himself in knots on the issue of taxpayer funding of elective abortion over the past few weeks.

After four decades of supporting the Hyde amendment, a measure that bans federal funding of abortion under Medicaid except in rare circumstances, Biden told an ACLU activist in May that it should be repealed.

Then, on Wednesday, two weeks after the media publicized his change of heart, the Biden campaign issued a statement saying that he still supports the Hyde amendment, claiming that he had simply “misheard” the ACLU activist when he said otherwise.

Yesterday, after 24 hours of being pummeled by his rivals, the media, and pro-abortion groups, Biden declared that he had decided after all to oppose the Hyde amendment because states such as Alabama and Georgia are now attempting to ban most abortions. “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,” Biden said at an event in Atlanta.

As a matter of politics, all the flipping and flopping and flipping yet again is a particularly bad case of political malpractice. On June 5, the Biden campaign’s statement portrayed the candidate as a confused old man who couldn’t tell the difference between the words “Hyde amendment” and “Mexico City policy.” On June 6, Biden presented himself as a craven old man whose decades-long conviction on a matter of conscience couldn’t withstand a day of criticism.

Biden managed to enrage pro-abortion and left-wing activists just before dashing the hopes of moderates. He raised the visibility of the issue of Medicaid funding of abortion — a policy American voters oppose 58 percent to 36 percent, according to a 2016 poll conducted for Harvard — before deciding to take the unpopular side. For all the confusion Biden caused about his own position, his caving sent a very clear message that pro-life Democrats and those with moderate views on abortion will not be tolerated in the Democratic party.

As a matter of policy, Biden’s final decision to embrace extensive taxpayer funding for abortion is a moral disgrace. Before the passage of the Hyde amendment, Medicaid paid for an estimated 300,000 abortions annually. The Hyde amendment has saved the lives of more than 2 million human beings over the last four decades, according to a recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. An earlier study from the Guttmacher Institute found that where states use their tax dollars to fund abortion under Medicaid, women on Medicaid had an abortion rate four times that of women not on Medicaid. (In states that do not fund abortion, women on Medicaid were 1.6 times as likely as women not on Medicaid to have abortions.)

That poor women have abortion rates much higher than wealthier women is a good thing in the eyes of some on the left. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said she was surprised that the Supreme Court didn’t declare a right to taxpayer funding of abortion for Medicaid recipients in 1980 because “at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

The phrase “populations we don’t want to have too many of” is a eugenicist euphemism for “poor Americans.” If you care to know what poor Americans think about the taxpayer funding of abortion, they don’t want it. While 45 percent of voters earning more than $75,000 support Medicaid funding of abortion, only 24 percent of those making $25,000 or less support it.

When Biden and the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates portray repeal of the Hyde amendment as helping poor Americans, know that it is a lie. Our fellow Americans need our help. Government subsidies to abort their children is something they can live without.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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