Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple Biden 'profoundly disappointed' after voting rights push fails in Senate Madame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures MORE (D-Calif.) challenged former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy Vilsack accuses China of breaking commitments in Trump-era trade deal MORE at Wednesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate for his previous longtime support of a law that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion services.
Biden came under fire last month for saying he supported the Hyde Amendment. He reversed his position a few days later.
“On the Hyde Amendment, vice president, where you made a decision for years to withhold resources to poor women to have access to reproductive health care, including women who were the victims of rape and incest, do you now say that you have evolved and you regret that?” Harris said in one of several shots she took at Biden during the debate in Detroit.
“Only since you’ve been running for president this time, said that you in some way would take that back or you didn’t agree with that decision you made over many, many years and this directly impacted so many women in our country,” she added.
Biden responded by accusing Harris of mischaracterizing his stance on the issue.
“The senator knows that’s not my position,” he said. “Everybody on this stage [that] has been in the Congress, in the Senate or House, has voted on the Hyde Amendment,” noting that it’s a restriction on federal funding that Republicans routinely insert into annual government funding bills.
Biden said the Hyde Amendment was “available” in the past because “there was other access for” abortion services “provided privately.”
He then highlighted his role in crafting legislation to provide federal funding for abortion services, possibly referring to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which allows insurers to offer plans that cover abortions in states that do not ban such coverage as long as the services are paid for with private dollars.
“Once I wrote the legislation making sure that every single woman would in fact have an opportunity to have health care paid for by the federal government — everyone — that could no longer stand,” he said of the Hyde Amendment.
“I support a woman’s right to choose. I support it as a constitutional right. I’ve supported it, I will continue to support it and I in fact will move as president to see to that the Congress legislates that that is the law,” Biden added.
As recently as early June, Biden said he supported the Hyde Amendment but quickly reversed himself after taking fire from fellow Democrats.
He announced his new position at a Democratic National Committee event in Atlanta, telling the audience: “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”
Harris sounded skeptical Wednesday night about Biden’s reversal.
“Why did it take you so long to change your position on the Hyde Amendment?” she said.
Biden replied: “Because there was not full federal funding for all reproductive services prior to this point.”