By Justin Chermol
Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to take heat for his support of the Hyde Amendment, an anti-abortion provision that prohibits the use of federal funds for terminating pregnancies.
"I think he's wrong on the Hyde Amendment, and I think it reflects the way work used to be done in Washington. It's not what we should be doing now," Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a 2020 presidential candidate, told Cheddar in an interview over the week.
Biden has been criticized by several of the leading 2020 presidential contenders after his campaign confirmed he supports the restriction on Medicaid that prevents coverage for an abortion. The amendment, named after late Congressman Henry Hyde which is voted on annually in one form or another on federal spending bills since 1976, holds narrow exceptions — for cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.
The former vice president's support for the controversial restriction comes after a month of hard-line anti-abortion legislation sweeping the nation. Some deep-red states like Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana have passed laws that outright ban abortions or severely rolled back protections ascribed to Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that constitutionally guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion.
"When you see what's happening in Alabama and other places across the country, this assault on women's right to choose, on women's healthcare, this is something we have to defend," Bennet said. "And the Hyde Amendment I think, is obviously not the same as that, but I think it's an antiquated approach to the work, and we should do something different."
NBC News, which first reported Biden's support of the Amendment, found that in 1994, the then-senator wrote a letter to constituents during healthcare negotiations under the Clinton administration, saying “those of us who are opposed to abortions should not be compelled to pay for them."
With 23 Democrats in the 2020 race, nearly all have criticized Biden's support for Hyde. All of the women senators who are also running for president — Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — have co-sponsored a bill to overturn Hyde.
"No woman's access to reproductive health care should be based on how much money she has. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment," Harris said in a tweet.
Gillibrand echoed the message: "Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats."
Bennet — who was one of the last 2020 candidates to issue a statement on Hyde — however, did not call for a repeal himself when criticizing the Hyde Amendment and Biden for supporting it.