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Politics & Policy

Biden Walks Back Support for Federal Abortion Funding

Joe Biden joins Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a campaign stop in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2019. (Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

Update 12:17 p.m.: Biden’s campaign told CNN Wednesday afternoon that he misheard the ACLU supporter and has never changed his position on the Hyde amendment.

After initially calling last month for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the direct federal funding of abortion, former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign appeared to reverse that position on Tuesday.

Biden’s campaign aides told NBC News that the 2020 presidential frontrunner still supports the 1976 law prohibiting the funding of abortion through public-health programs such as Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

That admission represents a stark departure from less than one month ago when Biden told an ACLU supporter that the law “can’t stay.”

Biden appears to be the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate that has committed to maintaining the Hyde amendment and two of his competitors, Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey of Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have released plans to protect access to abortion.

Warren has also joined fellow 2020 aspirants, Senators Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to co-sponsor federal legislation that would eliminate the Hyde amendment.

Planned Parenthood lashed out at Biden in response to his campaign’s moderation on the abortion issue.

“The unfair Hyde amendment makes it so that those who have the least end up having to pay the most to access abortion, and those who are service members or live on reservations are often left with no coverage for abortion care,” Kelly Robinson, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive director, told NBC News. “We encourage any candidate who doesn’t recognize Hyde’s impact to speak to the women it hurts most — particularly on women of color and women with low incomes — to learn more about the harmful impacts of this discriminatory policy.”

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