Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s reversal of opinion on the Hyde Amendment, a measure he’s stood by for decades that prohibits federal funding for most abortions, seems to have worked in his favor.
Biden has long supported the Hyde Amendment, which blocks the use of Medicaid funds for abortion. But following the recent wave of restrictive abortion laws passing in states like Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Ohio, many progressive activists criticized him for backing an amendment that disproportionately affects poor black and Hispanic women. The pressure made Biden buckle and denounce the amendment as an obstacle to his goal of “universal coverage.”
Biden, who’s currently leading most polls, has been running closer to the center than most Democratic contenders, and his change of heart was seen as representing a shift in Democratic politics.
A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found some voters appreciate Biden’s change in attitude: 31 percent of those voting in a Democratic primary or caucus said they were more likely to vote for the former vice president following his reversal on the Hyde Amendment. In contrast, 19 percent said they were less likely, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,991 registered voters from June 7 to 9. Biden had switched his stance on June 6.
The shift was especially pronounced among black and Hispanic voters: 18 percent of white voters said they were more likely to vote for Biden after his shift, in comparison to 28 percent of Hispanic voters and 27 percent of African American voters.
The Hyde Amendment itself is somewhat of a controversial topic among Democratic voters; 39 percent of those voting in a Democratic primary or caucus said they support it, while 46 percent do not.
Biden’s shift is the latest sign that, as Vox’s Anna North wrote, opposition to the Hyde Amendment — once seen as untouchable — is becoming mainstream among Democrats. And voters’ willingness to overlook the abruptness of Biden’s reversal is another sign of how important reproductive rights are in the 2020 election.