Biden 'misheard' ACLU activist's question about Hyde Amendment: campaign

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign said on Wednesday that the 2020 frontrunner "misheard" a question that effectively fed speculation that he'd flip-flopped on his support for the Hyde Amendment, a law blocking federal funding for abortion.

According to his campaign, Biden thought the woman was asking about the Mexico City policy -- a ban, revived by President Trump's administration, on international aid for groups that either promote or provide abortions.

“Biden misheard the woman on the ropeline and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule, which prevents federal aid money from going to organizations overseas that perform abortions," Biden's campaign reportedly said on Wednesday.

"He supports the repeal of the Mexico City rule because it prevents critical aid from going to organizations even if abortion is a very small fraction of the work they are doing. He has not at this point changed his position on the Hyde Amendment.”

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Although the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), whose volunteer asked the question, released the video in May, Biden appeared not to respond until the beginning of June. It's unclear when the campaign initially found out about the way the video was portrayed.

Media outlets included that video as an indication that Biden changed his mind on the Hyde Amendment -- an apparent about-face that prompted a wave of support for the law among his fellow 2020 contenders.

The Hyde Amendment blocks federal funding for abortion but contains exemptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. As a senator, Biden favored the Hyde Amendment but reportedly voted twice against those exceptions. He also reportedly voted to block federal employees' health insurance from paying for abortion.

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Biden could, however, change his position, as his campaign also said that the former vice president would be open to repealing the law given ongoing attacks on abortion access.

“Given the current draconian attempts to limit access to abortion, if avenues for women to access their protected rights under Roe v. Wade are closed, he would be open to repeal," the campaign reportedly said. It also, according to HuffPost, didn't clarify what it meant by "closed."

Biden's clarification reinforced a position that many 2020 Democrats seemed to denounce on Wednesday. A slew of 2020 Democrats pushed Hyde's repeal, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who indicated Biden's stance disqualified him from serving as the party's presidential nominee.

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Gillibrand, along with several other 2020 candidates, pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment as part of a broader plan to protect abortion access amid new state and federal restrictions.

The issue will likely come up more frequently as more progressive candidates push "Medicare for all," a form of universal health care that could include abortion coverage.

Alongside the flurry of opposition to Hyde, March for Life president Jeanne Mancini welcomed Biden's position on the issue.

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“The Hyde Amendment is the single most impactful pro-life public policy, saving well over two million lives since being enacted. It is very popular with mainstream America and up until recently was a bipartisan policy," she said in a statement provided to Fox News.

"We welcome former VP Biden’s endorsement of the Hyde Amendment, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss with him other policies related to the protection of innocent, unborn life - policies he supported when he was first in Congress. Abortion is a human rights issue, and ought to be a bipartisan issue as well.”