Sun. May 19th, 2024

Biden’s 50-year journey as a skeptic of Roe v. Wade to its ultimate protector

By 37ci3 Apr20,2024



The issue has been particularly difficult for Biden, 81, who was steeped in Catholic teachings and relied on religious faith to cope with an unimaginable tragedy: the deaths of his two children and his first wife, Neilia.

“One of the things that has gotten him through a lot of trouble is his Catholic approach to giving himself to the Lord,” said Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime confidant and former Senate chief of staff.

On a human level, Biden never quite got over his doubts about abortion. This is evident even in the language he sometimes uses. Speaking to reporters two years ago before boarding Air Force One, Biden called the procedure an abortion “child” is not a fetus, but a clue to the point at which life is believed to begin.

Still, his position is that he will not impose his personal views on Americans who believe differently. Roe said in a 1974 interview. v. Wade “went too far,” he also opposed a constitutional amendment banning abortion, though with some ambiguity, the hometown news report at the time shows.

In a column in the Wilmington Morning News in January 1974, Biden told a group of anti-abortion activists, “I’m not sure I’m right against such a constitutional amendment, nor am I sure my anti-abortion position is right, but now I think I’m more right than you are.” .

Campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a prepared statement: “Joe Biden has opposed abortion bans since the 1970s. As a senator, he voted repeatedly to protect Roe, and as President, he used full executive power to fight extreme MAGA attacks on reproductive freedom.

Biden last year, the tension between faith and politics a Maryland fundraiser.

“I happened to be a Catholic,” he said. “I don’t care much about abortion. But guess what? Roe v. Wade got it right.”

A look at his record shows that his path has had its share of starts and stops. As a senator in 1982, he voted in committee for a constitutional amendment that would have given states the power to restrict abortion if they chose, leading to Roe v. Wade was effectively overruled.

At the time, Biden said his goal was to get the vote to the Senate floor, where it would eventually be decided. The measure never got that far, and when it came up again the next year, he voted against it.

He is the leading candidate of the Democratic Party to run for the presidency in 2019 He changed his position for a long time in favor of the so-called Hyde Amendment, which would ban federal funding for abortions.

This face-to-face came at breakneck speed. One day his campaign said he supported the Hyde amendment; the next day, amid a backlash from fellow Democrats, he resigned. He justified this change by saying that he could no longer support the policy because he was a Republican limiting access to abortion in poor neighborhoods.

“Joe Biden is an Irish Catholic kid from Scranton,” said John Carr, founder of the Initiative for Catholic Life and Social Thought at Georgetown University. “He stays with Catholic orthodoxy until he thinks the political or other costs are too high.”

Biden realized early on that his nuanced stance — wary of abortion, accepting abortion rights in the public square — would bring him grief. He told fellow Sen. Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut in 1973 that his stance was unlikely to please anyone, according to his 2007 memoir Promises to Keep.

It proved to be a pioneer.

In Biden’s first year as president, conservative Catholic bishops argued that he should not receive communion because he supports abortion rights. He met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican in October of that year and later said the pope had assured him that the union should not be suspended.

Kathleen Sebelius, who served as health and human services secretary in President Barack Obama’s administration, said in an interview that she sympathizes with Biden’s plight.

“I was born and raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools for 17 years of my life,” said Sebelius, a former Kansas governor. “I understand this issue. I was called by the archbishop. It was me he ordered not to have communion.

“I’ve been on the personal and political side of this, and I understand the struggles of those who grow up in a faith community and then live in the political world,” he added. “It’s not easy. I think Nancy Pelosi [the former House speaker, who is also Catholic] understands that. I think Joe Biden understands that. This is not a simple choice.”

Whatever Biden’s journey, most advocates say they are confident he is a credible advocate for abortion rights. When Biden left the Senate in 2009, he had a 100% approval rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, a group that then promoted access to abortion.

“Biden is not the same person he was when it came to abortion rights,” said Ilyse Hogue, the organization’s former president. “I don’t think he’s hiding his agenda to win a second term and then secretly plan to turn around and be this anti-choice guy. I am not worried about it at all.”

Some still don’t believe Biden has gone far enough to promote reproductive rights.

Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of the abortion rights group We Testify, said Biden should use his megaphone to address the stigma surrounding abortion instead of voicing his personal doubts. He pointed to recent polls 6 out of 10 Catholics support abortion rights.

“He is the president of the United States; he is not the pope of the United States,” said Bracey Sherman. “Sorry, he’s allowed to have his personal feelings. “But at the end of the day, he’s the president, and he has to defend the Constitution and the people who need abortions in this country.”

Bracey Sherman said his organization has repeatedly reached out to the Biden administration, offering to bring Catholics who have had abortions to the White House to share their stories — but has yet to hear back.

“He seems to be following Catholic teachings,” she said. “And what about the remaining Catholics in America who support access to abortion and have abortions?”

Elections are choices. Even those who oppose Biden say they know full well that the only real alternative at this point is Trump, whom they consider an extremist on this issue.

Abortion appears to be one of Trump’s glaring weaknesses. He overruled Roe v. by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices in one term. Brags about his role in Wade’s undoing.

“There is a fundamental question and a fundamental difference between the president and Donald Trump and their beliefs about whether the Constitution gives women the right to choose. Donald Trump does not; Joe Biden does,” said Kate Berner, a former Biden White House official.

Trump recently said abortion decisions should be left up to the states after being criticized for being vague about what he believes. Nevertheless, he searched to separate oneself From a recent state court ruling in Arizona that upheld a 19th-century law that virtually banned abortion.

It won’t be easy for Trump to drop Arizona’s tough abortion measure. Its enactment stems directly from the votes of conservative Supreme Court justices that Trump is trying to install.

“The fact is, he announced that he would fill the court with justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. “He made it. They did it. That led to a revival of laws like Arizona, even as Trump said, “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s the result. It doesn’t make me look good politically.”

Biden was at the White House last Sunday and dealt with the consequences of Iran’s attack on Israel. On weekends when he’s in Washington, he’ll often attend services at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, where the nation’s first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, visited. A Black Lives Matter banner hangs on the fence outside.

Biden was not in the stands that day; he was participating in a virtual meeting with US allies about the Iranian attack.

The Rev. Patrick Earl led the mass and then greeted the congregation at the door. He said in an interview that Biden was a “good presence” during services, and recalled that one boy left his seat to wish his family a Happy First Communion.

Earl said he understood Biden’s position, even if it conflicted with church teaching.

“As a political leader of a very different country, you can’t just say, ‘You have to believe what I believe,'” he said.



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