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