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Joe Biden's wavering commitment on abortion access has me worried

Biden's evolution on reproductive health has been praised - but his past can't be ignored

Joe Biden's wavering commitment on abortion access has me worried
Joe Biden | Former Vice President of the United States Joe B… | Flickr

Reproductive healthcare is assumed to be a fundamental right. You would expect nothing less of a country whose Constitution boasts equality and justice. However, in this administration, it often feels as if reproductive rights, let alone equality, have taken a backseat. Then again, what do you expect from a president who continuously belittles women and turns a blind eye to the issues affecting them?

So when Joe Biden announced his 2020 presidential campaign, I was skeptical. But with an extensive political pedigree, not to mention an eight year run as Vice President, what's not to like? But if I'm being honest, the former Vice President wasn't my first choice for the Democratic nominee. In fact, I was a staunch Elizabeth Warren fan, and will continue to be one long after this campaign is over.


But it wasn't Warren's comprehensive history as an educator, or her plan for free college and student cancellation, or even her universal childcare proposal that won me over. No, it was her commitment to reproductive rights - primarily abortion access -which had me hooked. That, along with her immense "mom energy," always provided me with an unwavering sense of comfort. But as Warren dropped out, making way for Biden to swoop in and collect the Democratic nomination, I was crushed. Not because I don't think Biden isn't qualified for the job. With a 50-year history in politics, and a self-assured, nonthreatening sense of confidence, he's considered a Democratic saving grace.

However, Biden's wavering commitment to reproductive justice has me on the fence. Let's rewind back to 1982, when Biden - then a U.S. senator - voted with Republicans on a constitutional amendment that would've allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. Biden has since altered his views on the subject and vows to protect the legislation if elected president.

Let's rewind a little further, back to 1976. The Hyde Amendment, a piece of legislation which blocks the use of federal funding (including Medicaid) to cover the cost of abortion, was just enacted. This disgusting piece of legislation has widely made abortion inaccessible for poor individuals and marginalized groups. Biden supported the Hyde Amendment for years, up until last year, when he changed his position after receiving criticism from multiple abortion rights groups. If elected president, Biden promises he will work to end the Hyde Amendment indefinitely. But the fact Biden recently changed his stance has me worried. Primarily because he's viewed as the best candidate to save us from another four years of the Trump administration.

In addition, Biden's platform doesn't mention any efforts to end The Helms Amendment, another piece of legislation limiting the use of U.S. foreign assistance for abortion care. In turn, Biden introduced his own amendment cleverly titled, the "Biden Amendment," which prohibited foreign aid towards any biomedical research related to abortion. He declined to fully support the Freedom of Choice Act and voted for the so-called "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act," which prohibits any physician from knowingly performing a partial-birth abortion, except when necessary.

But I guess Biden's evolution on abortion is a hopeful one. His shift regarding the Hyde Amendment is crucial, not just for his campaign but for the Democratic Party as whole. More importantly, Biden has since expressed support for Roe and has received a gleaming endorsement from Planned Parenthood. I may have my doubts about Biden, but I can't ignore my enthusiasm for reproductive healthcare being discussed as mainstream issue within the Democratic Party. I'll take these little victories with me to the polls in November, and hope they will turn into bigger ones within time.

Why as a mum and a psychologist I want us to talk more about dads

I am psychologist at the University of Sussex whose work is focused on supporting and researching parents - it has become clear to me that we need to worker harder to support the mental health of fathers. Here's why.

Why as a mum and a psychologist I want us to talk more about dads

Fatherhood

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I am stood in the kitchen experiencing a jangling combination of exhilaration, because my infant daughter has gone to sleep, and dread, because in just four hours she will wake up again.


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Children have a place on the frontlines of the culture wars

What Should We Do When the Culture Wars Invade Our Children’s Lives?

Children have a place on the frontlines of the culture wars

You know when there’s a controversy whether to include both sides to the Holocaust in a Texas school district, the culture wars have once again invaded the children’s lives. Similarly, in Southern Pennsylvania, books by people of color were banned (or per the official Central York School statement: “frozen” for an entire year.)

These discussions by the school boards are impacted by the bills passed in government, as in the case of House Bill 3979 requiring public school teachers to present various points of view when teaching about current events and social issues. Often, the impulse to clutch pearls and to “think of the children” is a rhetorical device to further political causes. As the larger climate in a racialized society such as the United States grapple with a history of slavery and the fight for racial justice--with the most current iteration being the black lives matter protests in the summer of 2020--what the children learn in schools have become a new battleground for those who land on opposing sides of this culture war.

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