On June 5, former vice-president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign confirmed to The Hill that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortions (with exceptions). His opponents instantly piled on, hoping to erase his commanding lead in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential primary polls.
Abortion is shaping up as a key election issue to a degree we haven’t seen in decades. Republican state legislatures are pushing increasingly draconian bans in a play to put Roe v. Wade before what they hope will be a more pro-life Supreme Court bench than in the past. Democratic states are pulling in the other direction, attempting to protect abortion choice over as wide a time frame as possible.
The center isn’t always the best place to be, especially in a party primary cycle. Nor, says my most cynical self, is Joe Biden especially well-known for clinging to principle over party. But in this case that’s exactly what he’s doing … and in this case he’s absolutely right.
“I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate,” Biden wrote to a constituent in 1994. “[T]hose of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them. As you may know, I have consistently — on no fewer than 50 occasions — voted against federal funding of abortions.”
Whatever you think about abortion as such, that SHOULD be a position most of us can agree on. Even Congress has agreed on it — 44 times! They passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976 and have renewed it every year since, regardless of whether the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats or by Republicans at any given time.
Who doesn’t agree?
The National Abortion Rights Action League, which defends “access” to abortion but re-defines “access” as meaning “everyone else pays for it.”
Planned Parenthood, which wants its half a billion dollars in annual corporate welfare from Uncle Sugar dispensed without conditions.
Most of the other 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidates, who want endorsements from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, and the campaign contributions that they expect such endorsements to encourage.
Above, I mention that the Hyde Amendment includes exceptions. Those exceptions are for rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The only procedures covered by the federal funding ban are purely elective abortions, and not even all of those.
Obviously pro-life Americans have good reasons to support the Hyde Amendment. But so do pro-choice Americans, if they’re really pro-choice.
Whether or not to have an abortion is your choice.
Whether or not the rest of us pick up the check for your choice should be our choice, not Planned Parenthood’s or NARAL’s.
Stick to your guns, Joe.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
- “Election 2020: Joe Biden Gets One Thing Right, But it May Cost Him,” by Thomas L. Knapp, River Cities’ Reader (Iowa), 06/05/19
- “Election 2020: Biden Gets One Thing Right, But it May Cost Him,” by Thomas L. Knapp, OpEdNews, 06/06/19
- “Biden gets one thing right, but it may cost him,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Southgate, Michigan News-Herald, 06/08/19
- “Election 2020: Biden Gets One Thing Right, But it May Cost Him,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Ventura County, California Citizens Journal, 06/11/19
- “Biden gets it right,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Orangeburg, South Carolina Times & Democrat, 06/11/9
- “Biden Is Right About Hyde Amendment,” by Thomas L. Knapp, Cordell, Oklahoma Beacon, 06/24/19