Thursday, June 13, 2019

How Far Left Will Biden Be Pushed on Abortion?

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Ask any of the gazillion Democrats running for President about abortion and they will tell you the issue is simple.  It's about "women's health care," they declare.  The more extreme Democratic presidential candidates repeat the nonsense, ad nauseum, that opponents of abortion are "just men wanting control women's bodies."   Of course, about 50% of the people who oppose abortion rights are women. Never mind that there is no logical reason that men or women against abortion hold that position because they want to "control women's bodies."  The issue has to be more complicated than that.

And it is.  Despite the rhetoric of the left, the reason there are so many people opposed to abortion rights is that they see the fetus as a living, growing human being.  And medical science certainly backs up that position. 

No doubt that those on the pro choice side are rightly concerned about a woman's autonomy and the need to control her body.  But they are off base when they pretend abortion is not more complicated than that.  There is indisputably a human being growing inside a pregnant woman. That's why the issue is complex and difficult.

As a side note, don't get me started on polls which proclaim overwhelming support for Roe v. Wade.  99% of the public couldn't tell you what the holding of Roe v. Wade is.  That is proven over and over again with polls which show strong majorities do not support abortions that are perfectly legal under Roe.

Enter in the current debate former Vice President Joe Biden.  Biden is hardly a moderate on abortion.  But he seemed, at least, to recognize the legitimacy of the pro life position, even if it rarely impacted his actions as a public official.  But one area where Biden did not have an extreme pro choice position was on the issue of public funding of abortion.  He supported the Hyde amendment, a long holding compromise between the pro-choice and pro-life sides which essentially banned public funding of abortion.  s.

Last week, Biden changed his position on the Hyde Amendment.  He now supports not only abortion on demand until at least viability (more on that in a second) but that taxpayers should have to pay for those abortions.  (The Hyde amendment has the standard exception for rape, incest, life of the mother.)  To say that is an extreme position insulting to those who have grave reservations about abortion, is to be generous.  But that extreme position is the one held by all the other Democratic candidates running for President.

Was it a wise move politically?  There have always been s a significant number of Democratic-leaning voters who are pro life. One poll I saw showed about 30% of Democratic-leaning voters support the Hyde Amendment.  Now those Democrats will not have a primary candidate representing their view.  Biden abandoned those voters in favor of making his position indistinguishable from the other Democrats.  The idea behind the Biden switch no doubt was to deny his Democratic opponents a wedge issue. That switch though opens up the issue of electoral integrity, i.e. is a candidate switching his or her position solely out of political expediency?  Despite protestations to the contrary from the Biden camp, the answer is clearly "yes."

I should clarify:  political expediency for the primary round. There is little doubt that Biden's position against the Hyde Amendment, which is supported by a strong majority of voters, is harmful to his chances as a general election candidate.  No doubt, Trump will bludgeon Biden or what other Democrat is nominated, with the extreme position that taxpayers should be forced to pay for what many view as a morally repugnant procedure that ends a human life.

But for Biden, his abortion capitulation is unlikely to end there.  Next up will be the issue of third trimester abortion and the subset of those late stage abortions, partial birth abortions.  (Yes, partial birth abortion is a real thing and I won't go into the gruesome details over why that descriptive term is used.)   While Roe v. Wade provided for a constitutional right to abortion on demand through six months, the then assumed point of viability (which was altered by Planned Parenthood v. Casey), Roe allows states to ban abortion during the third trimester (except for threats to the health of the mother.)  But that is a policy choice made by legislative bodies.  In the stampede to the left, will all Democratic presidential candidates, including Biden, sign on to this expansion of Roe?  According to my Magic Eight Ball the "signs point to yes."

On the right, Republicans fall into the political quicksand when they adopt pro-life laws that don't have the highly popular traditional rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions. Collectively those amount to something like 1% of the abortions performed.  While I'm aware of and sympathetic to the argument that "all life is precious" for not including the rape and incest exceptions, it does not seem wise to throw the 99% away because you are fighting for the 100%.

Likewise, third trimester abortions are highly unpopular.  They too are rare, making up to about 1% of the abortions performed.    Do the Democrats really want to make the abortion battle about defending the highly unpopular 1% instead of the 99% of abortions performed during first and second trimesters?

Pushing Biden to the left on abortion did him, and the Democratic Party, no favors.

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