Former Vice President Joe Biden has said he no longer supports a measure that bans federal funding for most abortions, reversing course on an important issue for Democratic voters, after facing criticism for supporting the measure.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta on Thursday, Biden said the change was due in part to recent Republican efforts to restrict abortion access in states across the country, especially in the South, calling them “extreme laws,” according to The New York Times.
Recently his campaign had said he supports the measure, known as the Hyde Amendment. His decision to change course shows the pressure he faces as the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, the Times reports.
“I’ve been working through the finer details of my health care plan, like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said, suggesting that the amendment hinders his goals of “universal coverage” and providing the “full range of health services women need.”
He added, “Folks, times have changed. I don’t think these guys are going to let up.”
The Hyde Amendment, named for former Republican Representative Henry Hyde from Illinois, was first passed in 1976 and is renewed annually with occasional changes to the list of exceptions, the Times reports. The measure bans federal funding of abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. It also affects Medicaid funding of abortion, and critics argue that it puts a burden on poor women and minorities.
Biden has said he supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, but he has opposed members of his party on various abortion measures, ascribing his views to his Roman Catholic faith, according to the Times.
Speaking about the Hyde Amendment on Thursday, he said, “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.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.