Mary Margaret Olohan
President Joe Biden said Friday that though he respects Americans who believe life begins at conception, he does not agree with them.
The president discussed Texas’ Heartbeat Act, which the Supreme Court declined to block earlier this week, Friday morning with reporters. The law bans abortion after six weeks and allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”
“I am a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, number one,” Biden said. “The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system … I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American, what we are talking about.”
“I respect people … who don’t support Roe v. Wade. I respect their views,” he said. “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all, I respect that. Don’t agree, but I respect that. Not going to impose that on people.”
Biden’s words Friday represent a departure from his own prior statements.
He said during a 2015 interview with Father Matt Malone of America Media, “I’m prepared to accept that the moment of conception is a human life and being, but I’m not prepared to say that to … people that have a different view.”
During a 2012 vice-presidential debate against then-candidate Paul Ryan, Biden said: “With regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide (doctrine ?). Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.”
“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear,” he continued. “No religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy — any hospital — none has to either refer contraception. None has to pay for contraception. None has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”
During a 2007 interview with “Meet the Press,” then-Sen. Biden said he accepted Catholic teaching on when life begins.
“I am prepared to accept my church’s view,” he said. “I think it’s a tough one. I have to accept that on faith. That is a tough, tough decision to me.”
Biden claimed a new stance on abortion throughout his 2020 presidential campaign, though he voted against pro-choice laws as a senator. He told the Catholic Diocese Newspaper in March 1986 that “abortion is wrong from the moment of conception,” according to NBC News.
The president said as recently as 2006: “I do not view abortion as a choice and a right … I think we should be focusing on how to limit the number of abortions.”
Biden’s campaign confirmed in 2019 that though he supported Roe v. Wade, he still supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funding for abortions. This statement encountered strong backlash from pro-abortion groups, left-wing activists and fellow candidates — including then-Sen. Kamala Harris.
Within 24 hours of reaffirming his support for Hyde, Biden announced on June 6, 2019, that he could “no longer support an amendment” that cuts off abortion funding.
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