2020 Democrats distance themselves from Biden over Hyde Amendment

Several Democrats running for president in 2020 distanced themselves on Wednesday from former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE after he confirmed his support for a controversial policy banning the use of federal funds for certain abortion services.

Biden campaign aides confirmed to The Hill Wednesday that the former vice president maintains his support for the Hyde Amendment, which prevents government health programs like Medicaid from paying for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. 


The campaign added that Biden would be open to repealing the amendment if access to abortion protected under Roe v. Wade was threatened. 

Biden is the only Democrat running for president in 2020 who supports the Hyde Amendment. Other front-runners, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response Briahna Joy Gray: Warren not endorsing Sanders in 2020 was 'really frustrating' House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMcConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure Democrat Nikki Fried teases possible challenge to DeSantis Pavlich: The border crisis Biden said we could afford MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' Briahna Joy Gray: Warren not endorsing Sanders in 2020 was 'really frustrating' McConnell hits Democratic critics of Israel MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAustin tight lipped on whether to take sexual assault cases out of commanders' hands Gillibrand touts legislation to lower drug costs: This idea 'is deeply bipartisan' A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces MORE (D-N.Y.), have all said they support repealing it. The Democratic National Committee also included repealing the Hyde Amendment in its 2016 platform. 

The crowded 2020 Democratic primary field quickly began criticizing Biden for his support of the amendment, touting their vows to repeal the amendment.

“There is #NoMiddleGround on women’s rights. Abortion is a constitutional right. Under my Medicare for All plan, we will repeal the Hyde Amendment,” Sanders, who has consistently finished second to Biden in polling, tweeted.

"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.

Warren told reporters she “will lead the fight” to overturn the amendment and it “should not be American law.”

“Repealing the Hyde Amendment is critical so that low-income women in particular can have access to the reproductive care they need and deserve,” Gillibrand said. “Reproductive rights are human rights, period. They should be nonnegotiable for all Democrats.”

"The Hyde Amendment is a threat to reproductive rights that punishes women and families who already struggle with access to adequate health care services," Booker tweeted." 

“No matter your income or where you live, every woman should have access to health care including abortion,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said, retweeting a video of him calling for the amendment’s repeal.

“I voted against the Hyde Amendment in 1993. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. Reproductive health care is health care. Period,” Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington bans open carry of weapons at state capitol, public protests Washington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms Cuomo signs legislation restoring voting rights to felons upon release from prison MORE (D), who served in the House when the amendment passed, tweeted.

“All women should have access to reproductive care, regardless of their income or the state they live in. Abortion care is health care—it's time to repeal the #HydeAmendment,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said. 

“We can’t live in the past when it comes to women’s health. The next president must appoint judges who #ProtectRoe BUT also MUST fight to #RepealHyde. @PPact @NARAL @ilyseh,” Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted, tagging several abortion rights groups.

“The Hyde Amendment is a tax on millions of Americans seeking abortion. It’s wrong and should be repealed. Access to abortion care shouldn’t be limited by your zip code, income, or health care provider. It is a RIGHT,” Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Tim Ryan touts labor support in Senate bid Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay MORE (D-Ohio) tweeted.

"At a time when women's rights are under attack, we need to stand tall for our values. The #HydeAmendent actively harms women by limiting access and choice. It needs to be repealed," former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLobbying world DNC taps veteran campaign hands for communications staff Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE said."

"Defenders of women and their health care rights have agreed for decades: the Hyde Amendment is federally sanctioned discrimination. It is wrong and should be overturned immediately," Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Defense: Former Pentagon chief to testify about Capitol riot Wednesday | Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders MORE (D-Colo.) tweeted.

"The Hyde Amendment only hurts low income women, especially women of color. If you don’t support repeal, you shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee," New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting 3 shot, including 1 child, in Times Square New York area will lift capacity restrictions May 19 MORE tweeted, adding that "when it comes to supporting American women on issues like repealing the Hyde Amendment, @JoeBiden is Dr. Jekyll."

Biden’s continued support for the amendment also earned him criticism from several abortion rights groups.

“The unfair Hyde Amendment makes it so that those who have the least end up having to pay the most to access abortion, and those who are service members or live on reservations are often left with no coverage for abortion care,” Kelly Robinson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's executive director, said.

“We encourage any candidate who doesn't recognize Hyde's impact to speak to the women it hurts most — particularly on women of color and women with low incomes — to learn more about the harmful impacts of this discriminatory policy.” 

Biden’s decades-long tenure in the Senate shows a number of votes that imposed varying restrictions on federal funds being used for abortion, including voting against a 1977 compromise that allowed Medicaid to fund abortions with exceptions for rape, incest or medical safety of the mother, and several votes against allowing federal workers to use government-paid health insurance for abortion services.

The debate over abortion, long a hot-button issue for Democrats, has only ramped up in recent months as a slate of conservative states has moved to adopt stringent restrictions on the procedure.

Many states have banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around six weeks into a pregnancy, though Alabama went the furthest by completely banning the procedure unless the mother’s life is at risk.

Updated at 5:45 p.m.