In the early days of the Democratic primary, other candidates criticized Biden over his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment. In June 2019, Biden declared he could no longer support limits on funding for abortions in an environment where the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion is under attack in Republican-majority states, saying “circumstances have changed.”
“We’ve seen state after state, including Georgia, passing extreme laws,” Biden said then. “It’s clear that these folks are going to stop at nothing to get rid of Roe.”
This month, the Supreme Court announced it will review a Mississippi law restricting abortion access that could allow the court’s conservatives to reexamine the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent.
“Budgets are a statement of values. President Biden’s budget proposes to end the harmful Hyde Amendment — making clear that federal law should support everyone’s ability to access health care, including safe, legal, abortion, in this country,” tweeted Planned Parenthood Action after Biden’s budget was released Friday.
Abortion rights advocates have slammed the Hyde Amendment, which went into effect in 1976, because poorer Americans reliant on Medicaid do not generally have access to abortion via federal assistance. The amendment allows for exceptions only in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.
Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, called the budget “a historic step toward finally ending the coverage bans that have pushed abortion care out of reach and perpetuated inequality for decades.”
“No one should be denied abortion care because of where they live, how much money they have or how they get insurance,” Usova said.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, praised the move and vowed to continue pushing for abortion rights.
“Especially with a conservative Supreme Court taking up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, we’ve got to do everything we can to stand up for reproductive health care,” Murray said in a statement.
Abortion opponents railed against Biden’s decision, accusing him of being beholden to the liberal wing of the party.
“For more than four decades, the Hyde family of pro-life policies has kept American taxpayers out of the abortion business, with the Hyde Amendment itself saving nearly 2.5 million lives. The Biden budget throws that long-standing, bipartisan consensus out the window to fulfill a campaign promise to the radical abortion lobby,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion group.
The Biden budget request is not binding and requires Congress to also agree not to include it in their fiscal 2022 spending plan, which could be a challenge especially in an equally divided Senate where even one Democratic defection can derail a bill.