President Joe Biden was for the Hyde Amendment for most of his political career. Then he ran for president for the third time.
In June 2019, Biden came out against the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding from being spent on elective abortions and has prevented more than 2 million abortions.
Democrats have pushed to repeal the Hyde Amendment as they try to pass Biden’s $3.5 trillion so-called Build Back Better plan, or, more likely, a slimmed-down version of it. Now, Biden says he would sign the bill whether or not it included the Hyde Amendment. On this issue, however, Biden should copy his old running mate, former President Barack Obama.
Obama didn’t push to repeal the Hyde Amendment as a part of his agenda. Although Obama was pro-choice, he didn’t feel the need to rehash a divisive social issue at the risk of thwarting the progress he wanted to make on issues that mattered most to him. A majority of the public actually oppose taxpayer funding for abortion.
Obama’s major achievement in office was the Affordable Care Act, which he passed with 60 Democratic votes in the Senate. Even though there were 60 Democrats/independents voting with Democrats, Obama didn’t take the risk. He couldn’t risk losing any of those 60 votes, and he got a lot of what he wanted on healthcare. At the time, senators such as Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska were among those on the Democratic side who supported the Hyde Amendment.
Instead, Obama signed Executive Order 13535, "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's Consistency with Longstanding Restrictions on the Use of Federal Funds for Abortion," reaffirming his administration's support for the Hyde Amendment. It was an administration that even had a vice president who supported the Hyde Amendment: Joe Biden.
Sadly, we live in a country with a president who is indifferent to protecting the lives of unborn human beings, but at least he may put his politically calculated support for a horrific policy aside because it will stall his agenda in other places. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, won’t support Biden’s agenda if it includes repealing the Hyde Amendment, and that’s a vote Biden desperately needs to get anything done.
As long as elective abortion is legal in the U.S., federal funding for it should be a nonstarter for every administration. Obama was right in 2008 when he said that abortion is "always a tragic situation." Both parties should do what they can to decrease the number of abortions that take place in this country, not increase the number and force the rest of us to pay for it.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a political reporter for the New Boston Post in Massachusetts. He is also a freelance writer who has been published in USA Today, the Boston Globe, Newsday, ESPN, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Federalist, and a number of other outlets.