Former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE stumbled to explain how he would expand and protect abortion access during a Planned Parenthood event Saturday, instead skating around the issue and failing to say the word "abortion" even once.
Biden, who has been criticized on his abortion record by Democrats and activists, used euphemisms to refer to abortion access, including “reproductive rights,” “access to choice” and “access to the Supreme Court decisions.”
“There’s no rationale that can be offered that if you’re covered by the federal system, you cannot then use federal funding to seek reproductive health care rights,” Biden said, appearing to refer to the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy that blocks government health programs such as Medicaid from covering abortions.
Biden has been accused by abortion rights activists and Democrats of being out of touch with the party on many issues, including abortion.
Biden, a devout Catholic, personally opposes abortion was the only Democratic presidential candidate to support the Hyde Amendment until earlier this month.
He came out against Hyde after facing blowback from groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Biden struggled to explain his change of heart Saturday, saying it did not fit in with his health care plan, which he has not released yet.
"So it became really clear to me that although the Hyde Amendment was designed to try to split the difference here to make sure women still had access, you can’t have access if in fact everyone's covered by a federal policy," he said.
"And so that's why I, at the same time I announced that policy, I announced that I can no longer continue to abide by the Hyde Amendment," he added.
When asked how he would expand access by a veteran who had been raped and wasn’t able to get an abortion, Biden was still unable to say the word.
"The idea that there is a notion that anywhere in the world that a woman who is raped under any circumstances can be denied access, whether you're in the military or anywhere else, is absolutely bizarre. It's wrong. It's simply wrong," he said.
“You should have access to — you should have access to affordable — and if you don't have — you and you happen to have it — the VA benefits that you have, including your health care, should cover your circumstance,” Biden added.
Asked by a moderator about his “mixed” record on reproductive rights, Biden said, “I’m not sure about the mixed record part. I’ve had 100 percent voting record” before his mic stopped working.
When it worked again, he talked about his plan to “extend health care to everyone.”
He has not unveiled a health care proposal but has voiced support for allowing anyone to buy into the Medicare program.