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What Is The Hyde Amendment? Joe Biden Reportedly Supports The Divisive Abortion Rule

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In the wake of several states passing anti-choice legislation, Americans are becoming more concerned about where presidential hopefuls stand on the topic of abortion. And one part of this conversation will be the Hyde Amendment and whether politicians support it or want the controversial abortion rule repealed. And there's at least one candidate whose stance is known; as NBC News reported on Wednesday, former VP and current presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, still supports it.

Here's a little background: according to Planned Parenthood, the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976 and blocks federal Medicaid funding for almost all abortion services, with very few exceptions. This means that Medicaid cannot cover an abortion, even when a woman's health is at risk (or a doctor says a woman needs to have an abortion), for the more than 65 million people who are enrolled in Medicaid, according to Planned Parenthood.

This rule impacts low-income women, and those who rely on Medicaid, most. As Ibis Reproductive Health explained, the Hyde Amendment essentially "forces women to come up with money they do not have to pay for abortion care out-of-pocket, which can cause women to delay obtaining care while they look for financial resources, or compel women to continue unwanted pregnancies."

In the past, some Democrats have pushed for the Hyde Amendment to be repealed, according to The Atlantic. But as NBC News reported, Biden apparently is not, and has not been, one of them. Romper's request for comment from Biden's team was not immediately returned.

During his time in the Senate, Biden reportedly did not support a compromise for the Hyde Amendment in 1977, which allowed the use of federal funds for abortion care only in cases for women whose pregnancies are due to rape or incest, according to NBC News.

When those exceptions passed, as The Hill reported, Biden voted to remove them in 1981. And 40 years after the amendment passed, Biden's team confirmed to NBC News that he "still supports the Hyde Amendment." He may, however, reconsider his stance. Biden's team said that he would reportedly be open to repealing the Hyde Amendment if "abortion access currently protected under Roe vs. Wade was threatened", according to The Hill.

Biden has a mixed voting record regarding abortion rights, according to Jacobin. While he supports the right to choose, he reportedly stands by his vote for the Hyde Amendment, which, in turn, limits that choice.

"Roe v. Wade is settled law and should not be overturned," he tweeted in May, according to USA Today. "That choice should remain between a woman and her doctor." But Biden himself has even called his stance on abortion "middle of the road" in the past, according to The Atlantic.

As for this upcoming election, there are many hopeful candidates that support the repeal of the amendment, according to Vox. And in March, pro-choice lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced legislation to block the ban, according to ReWire News. This legislation would ensure that every person who receives health care from the government would have coverage on all pregnancy related services, including abortion, and would simultaneously block the Hyde Amendment.

In response to NBC News' report about Biden's stance on the Hyde Amendment, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue issued the following statement:

There’s 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. His position further endangers women and families already facing enormous hurdles and creates two classes of rights for people in this country, which is inherently undemocratic... At a time where the fundamental freedoms enshrined in Roe are under attack, the 2020 Democratic field has coalesced around the Party’s core values — support for abortion rights, and the basic truth that reproductive freedom is fundamental to the pursuit of equality and economic security in this country.

Indeed, as the 2020 presidential election nears, conversations about abortion access and the Hyde Amendment, and its impacts, have never been more important.