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 evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated Biden blasts Trump's 'embarrassing' actions heading into G-7 summit Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates 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. 

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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 SandersHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Andrew Yang: News coverage of Trump a 'microcosm' of issues facing country MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan 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 InsleeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court 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 SwalwellInslee seeking third term as governor after ending presidential bid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race 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) John RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit 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 HickenlooperIf the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief Hickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China 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 BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries 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 BlasioIf the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Mayor de Blasio, the small business killer 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.