Anti-abortion Democrats are firing back at members of their party’s platform committee for supporting language that would call for repealing a law preventing the use of federal funds for abortion.
The language inserted in the Reproductive Health section of the Democratic Party’s draft platform for the first time calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a pillar of the anti-abortion-rights movement.
Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators urging federal investigation into Liberty University's handling of sexual assault claims Crucial talks on Biden agenda enter homestretch Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE Jr., a Democrat from Pennsylvania who opposes abortion, was concerned enough about the change to write a letter to the platform committee urging members to reconsider.
“This is a consensus-based policy that has, for many years, prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortion,” Casey wrote in a letter sent Friday to the platform committee and obtained by The Hill.
He said the Hyde Amendment recognizes “that many Americans remain morally opposed to abortion, and do not wish to see their tax dollars go to pay for abortion.”
The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients except in cases of rape, incest or when pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
Another anti-abortion Democrat, Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden faces new pressure from climate groups after Powell pick Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one MORE (W.Va.), has also criticized the proposed change.
“That's crazy,” Manchin told the Weekly Standard. “It's something that I know most of the Democrats in West Virginia and most West Virginians would not agree with. I don't either.”
The Hyde Amendment is attached annually to spending bills, and it has received bipartisan support since 1976 despite vocal opposition from a growing number of Democrats who say the law punishes poor women who want to exercise their right to have an abortion.
Representatives for two other prominent anti-abortion Democratic senators confirmed to The Hill on Monday that they were opposed to their party platform's proposal to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
“Senator Donnelly has long supported and continues to support the Hyde Amendment, and as a pro-life Senator believes all life is sacred,” said Sarah Rothschild, spokeswoman for Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Ind.).
North Dakota Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE is another Democrat who disagrees with the proposed platform language.
“Senator Heitkamp has always been someone who puts the priorities of North Dakotans before any sort of political platform. She has long said she believes reproductive decisions should be left to a woman, her family, and her doctor,” said a spokeswoman.
“She also supports the Hyde amendment and a state’s right to mandate parental consent for minors or restrict partial birth abortions, except when medically necessary to protect the life of the woman.”
The office of another anti-abortion Democratic senator, Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats plow ahead as Manchin yo-yos Senate advances defense bill after delay Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Senators to take up defense bill Wednesday MORE of Virginia, did not respond to The Hill's questions.
Kaine is under consideration to become Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE's vice presidential pick, and some within the party view his personal opposition to abortion as a barrier to that.
Earlier on Monday, the Susan B. Anthony List, a socially conservative group, issued a statement challenging anti-abortion Democrats to oppose the Hyde-related language in the platform.
The group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, will give a speech at Washington's National Press Club on Wednesday which will include an attack on “Democrat abortion extremism.”
“The 2016 platform is dramatically out of step with the position previously taken by several Democratic senators, including Tim Kaine, currently being considered as Hillary Clinton's running mate,” Dannenfelser said.