Biden and Abortion: His Devastating ‘D-Day’

COMMENTARY: June 6, 2019, marked a fateful turn in Biden’s long drift away from his Church’s opposition to abortion.

President-elect Joe Biden arrives in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 4, 2021.
President-elect Joe Biden arrives in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 4, 2021. (photo: Jim Watson / AFP/Getty)

The day was a Thursday, June 6, 2019. It was the 75th anniversary of D-Day. And for Joe Biden, it seems in retrospect a kind of personal D-Day, marking a fateful pivot for this lifelong Catholic who steadily but surely over the decades has moved further away from his Church’s pro-life teachings.

In a big announcement that day while campaigning in Atlanta, candidate Joe Biden, clinging desperately to maintain his position as the Democrat presidential front-runner for 2020, said: “For many years as a U.S. senator, I have supported the Hyde Amendment, as many, many others have, because there [were] sufficient moneys and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right [to abortion]; women of color, poor women, women were not able to have access. … But circumstances have changed.” 

Just like that, Joe Biden’s 40-plus years of support for the Hyde Amendment was gone. It had been the only remaining vestige of any Biden pro-life position. He abandoned it, obviously for political reasons. In response, the crowd of liberal women went wild, cheering ecstatically.

It was a sad moment to behold for any pro-life Catholic, and especially for pro-life Catholic Democrats praying that at long last they might have a party nominee who wasn’t quite as extreme as the party’s recent nominees on the abortion issue. This is not to say that Joe Biden was pro-life (quite the contrary, given his history), but he wasn’t as terrible on abortion as other Democrats, such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

And yet, think about what Joe Biden said — that is, the rationale offered for his flip, and to the roaring approval of his progressive crowd: He reversed his long-held position in support of the Hyde Amendment, which long banned forced taxpayer funding of abortion, allowing for religious-conscience exemptions, so that “women of color, poor women” can have their abortions publicly paid for. He was changing specifically because of women of color and poor women. He wants to make sure money isn’t an issue to them. He wants no obstacles for them in securing their desire to abort their children. This change is prompted wholly on their behalf: “women of color, poor women.” 

Of course, if Donald Trump had staked such a position with such a cold rationale, how long would it take before liberals screamed and denounced him as a racist at the top of their collective lungs? But when it comes to abortion, the most race-focused progressive will look the other way. Look at how they’ve long looked past Margaret Sanger’s racial transgressions, from her work for the Negro Project to her May 1926 speech to the women’s chapter of the KKK in Silverlake, New Jersey.

As Catholics — that is, the faith Joe Biden professes to follow — we believe every human being has sanctity and dignity and is made in the image of God. That most certainly includes children of women of color and poor women. We do not take extra steps to ensure that they, specifically, receive taxpayer support to guarantee their children are aborted with our money.

Of course, the fact is that abortion already victimizes minorities by leaps and bounds. The national figures show that the proportion of abortions by Black women far outpace white women. Some civil-rights leaders, including Alveda King, have called this “Black Genocide.”

Well, Joe Biden wanted America’s minorities to know he wants to make sure they get free abortions. He’s hardly alone in his switch. 

The Democratic Party as a whole once supported the Hyde Amendment, which more than 40 years ago was passed and supported by a Democratic House, Senate and president. But that Democratic Party no longer exists. Today, you can count on literally one or two hands the number of pro-life Democrats in the House and Senate. Today’s progressives tell us that on this issue they have progressed. They have evolved, moved forward to a new era and new thinking. Hyde itself must be aborted, this thinking goes, so Americans can support abortions for poor women, women of color, Black women, Hispanic women.

Patti Solis Doyle, who had served as Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager in 2008 and who has worked for Biden, put it candidly: “The problem is: The Hyde Amendment affects poor women, women of color, Black women, Hispanic women.” In her view, that’s bad. 

Of course, it’s especially bad for Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger’s organization, which counts on minority women as major customers. At the time of Biden’s D-Day moment, Leana Wen of Planned Parenthood had said: “Happy to see Joe Biden embrace what we have long known to be true: Hyde blocks people — particularly women of color and women with low incomes — from accessing safe, legal abortion care.”

It sure does block them. And Joe Biden wants to lift all obstacles.

Perhaps most disappointing is that Biden succumbed to this reversal under political pressure from his party rivals, particularly Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California. Warren had a fit over this issue. Choking back tears, filled with anger, she insisted to an emotional audience that Hyde be reversed. “Understand this,” said Warren, voice trembling. “Women of means will still have access to abortions. Who won’t will be poor women.” As for Kamala Harris, click here to watch her on July 31, 2019, attack Biden for supporting Hyde, which she said was “unacceptable.” Biden by then had flipped on Hyde, but Harris was still fuming.

In a display of political-personal cowardice — which is especially disconcerting given that he will soon be inaugurated president — Joe Biden allowed himself to be browbeaten by these strident abortion activists in his party. He abandoned the unborn (and taxpayers) he had once defended through Hyde and abandoned the teaching of his Catholic faith as well, to appease Warren and Harris and angry progressives.

Joe Biden, ironically, had once stood out among a pack of rabidly pro-choice Democrats for having at least once been not quite as reprehensible as the rest on the abortion issue. Of course, he was firmly “pro-choice,” but at least he stood to the right of the likes of Warren, Harris and Hillary Clinton.

But for Biden, that all changed on June 6, 2019 — his D-Day. On that date, by abandoning his support for the Hyde Amendment, Biden abandoned pro-life Catholics and pro-lifers generally. For those among them who didn’t personally like Donald Trump, and were willing to consider a vote for Biden (who, after all, at least supported the Hyde Amendment), well, that was gone. And then it was really, really gone when, in a stunning move, one of the women who browbeat Biden on Hyde — Harris, who has been awful toward Catholic pro-lifers (from David Daleiden to Brian Buescher) — was chosen by Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate. 

June 6, 2019, was a fateful turn in Joe Biden’s long drift away from his Church’s opposition to abortion. It marked a clear political-personal pivot, a moral pivot — perhaps a point of no return. What remains to be seen is the extent to which a President Biden further abandons pro-lifers and, above all, the unborn.