Thursday, June 06, 2019

Whatever Flies

As Jacobin's Branko Marcetic wrote shortly before Joe Biden officially became a Democratic candidate for President, Joe Biden's record on reproductive freedom has been decidedly mixed.

This has been manifested continuously On Wednesday, The Hill reported

As a senator from Delaware, Biden once voted to let states overturn Roe v. Wade. He also supported the Mexico City Policy, which bans federal aid to foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions.

Biden now says he would consider codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law in case the ruling is overturned by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. His campaign also said he would overturn the Mexico City Policy, which was reinstated in 2017 by President Trump.

Yet in 2005, Biden voted for an amendment which would have "nullified" President Bush's reinstatement of the Policy.

Recently, the former vice-president has ramped up his "on the one hand, but on the other hand" approach.. During a rope-line exchange in early May in South Carolina, Biden told an ACLU activist that he opposes the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of incest, rape, or the life of the woman.

This comment was made almost 47 years after Biden was first elected to the United States Senate and a decade after being elected Vice-President. It came decades after the Senator had voted for the Hyde Amendment, for extending it to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, for barring the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program from funding abortions for federal employees,  and against the existing exemptions in cases of rape and incest..

Nearly five weeks later after the South Carolina moment, the candidate (according to a campaign statement) "has not at this point changed his position on the Hyde Amendment."

"At this point" is intended to demonstrate that the candidate is malleable and flexible or, as is most likely, without discernible principle. And so it is that the campaign added “Given the current draconian attempts to limit access to abortion, if avenues for women to access their protected rights under Roe v. Wade are closed, he would be open to repeal."

Biden's people would not clarify what "closed" means, nor has it explained what "open" means.  The candidate has, however, continued to support Roe v. Wade, a court decision seemingly unable to check the punitive restrictions placed upon abortion access in various states.

Yet (or maybe because) Roe remains popular with the American people, as does the Hyde Amendment. And perhaps that, rather than claimed devotion to Roman Catholicism, that is the the key to understanding Joe Biden's schizophrenic views and actions to reproductive freedom. It may turn out that Biden's devotion is to no ideology or principle, save the commitment through the years to an ambition driving him to become President.

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