Morning Joe Justifies Biden Flip: Abortion Rights 'Under Siege'

June 7th, 2019 5:45 PM

On Thursday, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden flipped on abortion. Speaking at an event in Atlanta, the former Vice President reversed his decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment, the federal law prohibiting use of federal taxpayer money to fund abortions. It was a reversal that came just 24 hours after his campaign reaffirmed his support for the amendment amid backlash from other candidates and abortion groups.

Since Biden is widely considered to be the candidate most likely to defeat Trump, MSNBC naturally rushed to his defense. Completely ignoring the likely reason for his pivot, Morning Joe justified it based on a Republican “unprecedented assault on abortion rights.”



On a Friday segment of the show, NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla ranted (click “expand”):

And of course you saw what happened with the reaction to that by all of the presidential candidates, by all of the women's rights groups like Emily's List, like Planned Parenthood, who said, "You know what, in this context, Joe Biden, you may have supported this your entire career, but we are in a moment here that we have not faced, really since the inception of Roe, with the unprecedented assault on abortion rights." And I think, we don't know exactly what went through Biden's head, Willie, we do know from our own reporters, intrepid reporters, Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor on the ground, that this really happened last minute. Even his aides, two to three hours before his speech, said that they didn't know what he was going to do.

He seemed to not be reading this from the teleprompter and actually really speaking from the heart. And if you listen to what he said there, this is a moment of acknowledgment from Biden that, yes, we are in a unique moment where -- with all of these laws at the state level being passed and also Planned Parenthood funding being under siege, you're seeing the number of clinics going down in states like Missouri, where you may only have one clinic left, in Texas, and what's happening at the same time is that you're seeing an increase in maternal mortality rates. So let's be clear here. The Hyde Amendment affects only poor women -- low income, poor women. Because we're talking about Medicaid funding. He obviously made the calculation that in today's modern climate, “I cannot continue to hold this position.” 

Donny Deutsch later followed up by saying that Biden can “gracefully pivot” and be given a pass by the voters.

In reality, the flip-flop was far from graceful, as Biden has a long history, up until 24 hours ago, of holding centrist views on abortion. As a Senator, Biden voted for the Hyde Amendment in 1976, added the “Biden Amendment” to the Foreign Assistance Act in 1981 that banned American aid from being used in research related to abortions, supported the “Mexico City Policy” in 1984, voted to save the Hyde Amendment in 1993, and voted for partial-birth abortion bans vetoed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1997.

As much as Morning Joe doesn’t want to admit it, Biden has flipped on the Hyde Amendment because the Democratic Party has moved way out of the mainstream when it comes to its view of abortion. A 2016 Politico poll found that only 36% of Americans support allowing tax dollars to pay for abortion. 

The full transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.

MSNBC's Morning Joe
6:14 a.m. Eastern

WILLIE GEIST: So that is a change, Heidi, of course, from Joe Biden, beginning in 1976 when the Hyde Amendment first came to pass, and again and again and again voting to uphold the Hyde Amendment, until last night. And, in fact, when your reporting came out two days ago, it contained again from the campaign an affirmation of his support for the Hyde Amendment. 

HEIDI PRZYBYLA: It was a really stunning turn of events, Willie. Because, in my research, I saw that Biden not only went along to get along on this vote, like a lot of other senators who said "hey we can't pass our spending bills unless we agree to this because the Republicans will never vote for it." No, Biden's record was that he forcefully and very enthusiastically supported this amendment going back to its earliest days. I called them when I saw footage of an ACLU activist who seemed to get him to change his position and I thought, "That's big news." I called them, they thought about it for a while, I gave them plenty of time to think about it, they got back to me, and they said, "No, he still supports it." And of course you saw what happened with the reaction to that by all of the presidential candidates, by all of the women's rights groups like Emily's List, like Planned Parenthood, who said, "You know what, in this context, Joe Biden, you may have supported this your entire career, but we are in a moment here that we have not faced, really since the inception of Roe, with the unprecedented assault on abortion rights." 

And I think, we don't know exactly what went through Biden's head, Willie, we do know from our own reporters, intrepid reporters, Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor on the ground, that this really happened last minute. Even his aides, two to three hours before his speech, said that they didn't know what he was going to do. He seemed to not be reading this from the teleprompter and actually really speaking from the heart. And if you listen to what he said there, this is a moment of acknowledgment from Biden that, yes, we are in a unique moment where -- with all of these laws at the state level being passed and also Planned Parenthood funding being under siege, you're seeing the number of clinics going down in states like Missouri, where you may only have one clinic left, in Texas, and what's happening at the same time isthat you're seeing an increase in maternal mortality rates. So let's be clear here. The Hyde Amendment affects only poor women -- low income, poor women. Because we're talking about Medicaid funding. He obviously made the calculation that in today's modern climate, "I cannot continue to hold this position." 

DONNY DEUTSCH: You know this is interesting. I said this at the beginning of Biden's campaign. People were very concerned, wow, he's got a long history, when it comes to crime, when it comes to bank regulations, that's going to sneak up on him. And I've said his defense is always going to be, look, I grow, I can change my mind, it's not changing your mind from age 40 to 42 and I think he's going to have the same Teflon feeling that Trump had. I think Democrats want him so bad, because they believe he can beat Trump, that they're gonna let him go, "You know what, I changed my mind, I changed my mind." So the very thing I think the other candidates are hoping for, that there's a lot of stuff in the last 34 years are gonna stick, I think this is the first inaction example of how he can gracefully pivot and voters are gonna give him a pass.