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 BidenTrump says lawmakers should censure Schiff Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public Trump threat lacks teeth to block impeachment witnesses 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 SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate 2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg tweeted support for 'Medicare for All' in 2018 Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Hillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seeks distance from Syria crisis MORE (D-N.J.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Lobbying world 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 InsleeOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate 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 SwalwellLawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Democratic lawmaker: Expelling Turkey from NATO 'should be on the table' Top State Department official arrives for testimony in impeachment probe 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 RyanThird-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart The Hill's 12:30 Report: Hunter Biden speaks out amid Ukraine controversy 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown 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 HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seeks distance from Syria crisis Gardner dodges questions about Trump's call for Biden probe 2020 Presidential Candidates 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 BennetSchumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever The Hill's 12:30 Report: Hunter Biden speaks out amid Ukraine controversy Impeachment threatens to create conflicts for Democratic candidates 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 Blasio2020 Presidential Candidates Cooperate, or else: New York threatens fines to force people to help block immigration enforcement DNC raises qualifying thresholds for fifth presidential debate 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.