Less than a month ago, at a campaign event, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) volunteer approached Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to ask whether he would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which denies public funding of abortions to women who can’t afford them.
“Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment, which hurts poor women and women of color?” she asked.
“Yes,” Biden said unequivocally. “Yes.”
To be honest, watching the clip at the time made me wonder if Biden really even knew what he was saying. He had what appeared to me to be a quizzical and unfocused expression on his face, suggesting he was not clear what the volunteer was asking. Biden’s first response was to tell the woman about his “near-perfect” voting record according to the ACLU.
But the volunteer did not let him get away with that, and she persisted, saying to him, “I heard you did [have a good record]. but I am so glad said you would commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment.”
“No, no,” he replied. “It has to be … it can’t stay.”
Apparently, Biden either did not understand the question, did not remember what the Hyde Amendment is, or did not know his own campaign position.
Today, NBC’s Heidi Przybyla writes, Biden’s campaign “confirmed to NBC News that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, a four-decade-old ban on using federal funds for abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.”
“Biden’s continued support for Hyde not only sets him apart from the rest of his 2020 Democratic competitors,” Przybyla writes, “but it may surprise progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which promoted a recent tweet by one of its activists appearing to get Biden to commit to ending Hyde during a rope-line exchange in South Carolina. Biden’s campaign told NBC he would be open to repealing Hyde if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened.”
So before the first debate, and after months of waiting for him to get into the presidential race, we now know that Biden’s campaign is, to be kind, not ready for primetime.