On Saturday, CNN host S.E. Cupp recounted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s recent series of missteps, including his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment.
After speaking about the Biden campaign allegedly cribbing climate change talking points directly from progressive organizations, as well as his campaign’s recent effort to put a period on his 1987 fabrication about having marched "in the civil rights movement," Cupp moved on to the candidate’s third gaffe of the week:
Finally, the two-step that was more like a three-step on the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 measure prohibiting federal funding for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, and endangering the life of the mother. Here’s how that went. Back in May, he was asked in a rope-line whether he’d repeal the amendment. He said he would.
The CNN host then played the clip featuring Biden being asked about the Hyde Amendment:
WOMAN: Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment which hurts poor women and women of color?
BIDEN: Yes, and by the way, ACLU member, I got a near-perfect voting record my entire career.
Well, on Wednesday, after that video resurfaced, his campaign backtracked, saying he misheard the question and still supports the measure. Facing a backlash from his Democratic challengers and progressive activists, by Thursday, he'd flipped yet again, announcing in a speech in Atlanta that he no longer backs the amendment.
The clip from Biden’s Atlanta speech was played:
BIDEN: I make no apologies in my last position, and I make no apologies [for] what I'm about to say. ... I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally-protected right. 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.
The CNN host continued:
Talk about whiplash. The immediate question, of course, is why wasn't Biden or his campaign ready for this question? Abortion is always a hot button issue in presidential elections, but now especially against the backdrop of extreme new laws in predominantly southern states – but there's a bigger problem here from where I sit. Now that Biden has caved to progressives on the Hyde Amendment, what's the point of his candidacy exactly? Here’s the deal, I'm confused. I thought Biden's raison d'être in this election was to occupy a moderate lane that far-left progressives had abandoned over the past few years. I thought he was attempting to capture the forgotten Democrats in the middle of the country. I was told he would speak to working-class Americans that his party had left behind for coastal elites. In flipping on Hyde, he just made himself ideologically indistinguishable from the other 23 candidates.
Cupp then wondered why Biden would flip on something like the Hyde Amendment, noting it "survived three Democratic presidents," and is supported by a majority of Americans.
"Biden's sudden accommodation to a vocal progressive minority makes it very clear – moderates, you've officially been dumped," Cupp concluded.
A recent New York Times article concerning Biden’s flip-flop cited polling data from Politico and YouGov showing that a majority of Americans indeed support the Hyde Amendment.
In 2016, Politico asked: "Medicaid is the largest government program that pays for health care for low-income people. Currently the federal government prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions under Medicaid. Do you favor or oppose changing this policy in order to allow Medicaid funds to be used to pay for abortions?"
58% of respondents opposed changing the policy, while 36% favored a change.
Also in 2016, YouGov asked: "The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used to fund abortions, except in the case of incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother. Do you support or oppose the Hyde Amendment?"
55% of respondents said that they support the Hyde Amendment, while just 29% said that they do not. Among Democrats, the split was shockingly close, with 41% supporting the amendment and 44% opposing it.
The New York Times also cites a 2015 Hart Research Associates poll, which stated the following:
Under current federal policy, if a woman enrolled in the Medicaid health program for low-income people becomes pregnant and decides to carry the pregnancy to term, Medicaid will pay for her pregnancy care and childbirth. Congress currently denies Medicaid coverage for the cost of an abortion. Congress may consider a bill so that a woman enrolled in Medicaid would have all her pregnancy-related healthcare covered by her insurance, including abortion services.
Despite 56% support versus 40% opposition, only 29% were shown to "strongly support" the measure, while 28% said they would "strongly oppose" it.
On abortion more broadly, a May 2018 Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose unrestricted abortion. While 29% of respondents said abortion should be "legal under any" circumstances, 50% said it should be "legal only under certain" circumstances, and 18% said it should be "illegal in all" circumstances.