As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden told an audience in South Carolina, “There’s no rationale that can be offered that if you’re covered by the federal system, you cannot then use federal funding to seek reproductive health care.” Before winning last year’s election, Biden also told primary voters that he “could no longer continue to abide by the Hyde Amendment,” according to Politico.
With these promises in mind, Biden included this opposition to the Hyde Amendment as part of his fiscal 2022 budget request, according to The Washington Post.
Passed in 1976, the “Hyde Amendment” was attached to spending bills related to taxpayer funding for healthcare to “prevent federal funding from directly underwriting elective abortion procedures.” Before the Hyde Amendment was adopted in 1980, an estimated 300,000 abortions were carried out every year using taxpayer funds, according to NPR.
The original legislation passed on September 30, 1976, with a vote of 312-93 in the House of Representatives. Between 1981 and 1993, federal funds could not be used for abortions “except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.” In 1993, President Clinton signed into law the “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,” which included cases of rape and incest in the category of elective abortions which qualify for federal funding.
Since 2016, the Democratic Party has become increasingly radical on the subject of abortion, marking the first time the party explicitly called for the Hyde Amendment to be repealed.
President Joe Biden, who came out in support of ending the Hyde Amendment in 2019, voted for the original version in 1976. He also voted to save it in 1993, as The Daily Wire reported in 2020.
The budget proposal represents a complete flip-flop on the subject of abortion for the president. Prior to opposing the Hyde Amendment, Biden advocated for the ability of states to overturn Roe vs. Wade, was in favor of the “Mexico City policy,” which prevented federal funds from being allocated to organizations which provided or expanded abortion services, and voted for partial-birth abortion bans on two occasions.
Speaking at a Planned Parenthood event in 2019, Biden explained his change of heart regarding the Hyde Amendment.
“I laid out a health care plan that’s going to provide federally funded health care for all women and women who now are denied even Medicare in their home states,” he explained. “It became really clear to me that although the Hyde Amendment was designed to try to split the difference here, to make sure women still had access, you can’t have access if everyone’s covered by a federal policy. That’s why at the same time I announced that policy, I announced that I could no longer continue to abide by the Hyde Amendment. That’s the reason.”
As The Daily Wire noted, during that same event, Biden stated that he would work to “enshrine into federal law the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision upholding abortion rights” — a verdict he had described as “wrongly decided” in 1973 and that “went too far” in 1974.