(CNA) The abortion-rights group NARAL has endorsed Joe Biden for president, just over a year after the group issued a scathing statement demanding he reverse his support for the Hyde Amendment.
“NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 2.5 million members are committed to powering Vice President Biden to victory this November and working with his administration to protect and expand access to abortion care and birth control,” said a statement from NARAL President Ilyse Hogue announcing the endorsement on July 27.
A Biden presidency would “stand for freedom over Donald Trump’s desire to control women,” and would “put a stop to Trump’s dangerous anti-choice political agenda when so much hangs in the balance,” she said.
As recently as 2003, while still serving in the U.S. Senate, Biden received a 36% rating from NARAL. In 2007, his last full year as a senator prior to being elected vice president, Biden received a 75% rating from NARAL, although he had received perfect 100% ratings in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Those years featured one roll-call vote on abortion legislation.
In June 2019, NARAL released a statement criticizing Biden for his support of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of taxpayer funding for abortions. Hogue said at that time that there was “no political or ideological excuse for Joe Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment, which translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple.”
Hogue added that Biden’s support of Hyde “further endangers women and families,” and that abortion protections are one of the Democratic Party’s “core values.”
Shortly after NARAL’s statement, Biden flip-flopped on his decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment and announced he was opposed to the policy.
NARAL’s endorsement of Biden is another milestone on the Democratic candidate’s journey to full support for abortion.
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Shortly after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Biden stated that he believed the court went “too far” in its ruling making abortion legal.
In the following decades, Biden’s pro-life votes and opinions continued. He lent his name to the “Biden Amendment,” which banned the use of federal funds for biomedical research involving abortion or involuntary sterilization in 1981. In 1984, Biden voted for the Mexico City Policy, which bans the use of federal aid money to pay for abortions.
Biden repeatedly voted in favor of the Hyde Amendment, and in 1995 and 1997 he voted to ban the late-term abortion technique partial-birth abortion.
In 2003, he broke with the Democratic members of the Senate and voted again for a ban on partial-birth abortion, helping to pass that bill into law.
Three years later, in 2006, Biden told Texas Monthly in an interview that he did “not view abortion as a choice and a right,” and that he considered it to be “always a tragedy.”
Biden, in 2006, said that he believed that abortion should be both “rare and safe,” and suggested that “we should be focusing on how to limit the number of abortions.”
In 2012, when running for a second term as vice president, Biden stated during the vice presidential debate that his personal social doctrine has been “particularly informed” by his Catholic faith.
“With regard to abortion, I accept my Church's position that life begins at conception,” said Biden. “That's the Church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and--I just refuse to impose that on others.”
The 2016 Democratic Platform included, for the first time, a plank in its platform pledging to overturn the Hyde Amendment.
By 2019, Biden, defending himself against Sen. Kamala Harris during a Democratic presidential candidate debate, stated that he believed abortion to be a “constitutional right.”
“I've supported it and I will continue to support it and I will, in fact, move as president to see to it that the Congress legislates that that is the laws as well,” said Biden.
Biden, who has made his Catholicism a campaign issue, has clashed repeatedly with Church authorities over his growing support for abortion.
In October 2019, he was refused Communion at a Catholic church in South Carolina. The priest denied Biden Communion in accord with a 2004 diocesan policy that prohibits politicians who have been supportive of legal protection for abortion from receiving the Eucharist.
“Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance,” says a 2004 decree signed jointly by the bishops of Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte.
At the time Biden was denied Communion, his website stated that one of his priorities as president would be to “work to codify Roe v. Wade” into federal law, and that “his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion,” including laws requiring waiting periods, ultrasounds, and parental notification of a minor’s abortion.
“Vice president Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because healthcare is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income,” said his website.
More recently, Biden has vowed to overturn religious freedom protections and force the Little Sisters of the Poor and similar groups to provide contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients through employee health coverage.
Earlier this month, following a Supreme Court ruling upholding an executive order by the Trump administration providing conscience protections for the so-called contraceptive mandate, Biden expressed his “disappointment” in the court’s decision and disagreement with the exemption for the sisters, adding that there is “a clear path to fixing it: electing a new president.”
Editor's note: This article was published by Catholic News Agency and is reprinted with permission.