The Corner

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Health-Care Plan Would Cover Abortion and Codify Roe

Joe Biden speaks with supporters in Marshalltown, Iowa, July 4, 2019. (Gage Skidmore)

Jack Crowe reported earlier this morning on former vice president Joe Biden’s health-care plan, which would expand the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option. This distinguishes Biden from the field of politicians vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, as most primary candidates have endorsed some form of “Medicare for All,” a single-payer model that would eliminate private insurance.

But his unwillingness to embrace the most radical health-care proposals on offer should not be mistaken for a dedication to moderation. Though Biden continues stubbornly to call himself a “personally pro-life” Democrat, his plan would enshrine into federal law the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, preventing states from protecting unborn life in any way (more or less formalizing the status quo, entrenched by courts that nearly uniformly interpret both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in favor of a woman’s supposed right to unlimited abortion access rather than in favor of states’ right to regulate abortion after fetal viability).

Biden’s plan would also repeal the Hyde amendment, a previously bipartisan rider added to federal spending bills to prohibit the direct federal funding of abortion. During his decades in the Senate, Biden consistently voted in favor the amendment and publicly supported it until last month, when he unceremoniously switched his position after facing public pressure from left-wing activists who favor allowing unlimited taxpayer-funded abortion. Biden has long said he wishes to respect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans — he does, after all, profess to be among their number — but his decision to abandon Hyde was made with nary an explanation and after publicly reversing himself on the issue no fewer than three times in the span of a couple weeks.

What’s more, the public option offered in Biden’s plan would “cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right to choose” — in other words, it would explicitly fund both abortion procedures and contraception (presumably including emergency contraception and IUDs, both of which can induce abortion under some circumstances). As currently structured, Obamacare covers contraception at no cost to women, and the HHS contraceptive mandate requires all employers to cover it, although the Trump administration has offered a religious and conscience exemption.

Abortion, meanwhile, is currently excluded from the list of procedures that insurers must cover, and if they do cover abortion, they are required to segregate federal funding so that taxpayer dollars aren’t directly reimbursing abortion procedures. Though Biden has yet to speak publicly on whether he stands by his many votes in the Senate in favor of the federal ban on partial-birth–abortion procedures, his full embrace of the Left’s radical abortion agenda appears to be nearly complete.

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