In Biden’s 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president to President Barack Obama, he has reversed himself a number of times on the issue of abortion.
While he largely supported the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that found a legal right to abortion, Roe v. Wade, Biden said in 1974 he believed the decision “went too far.”
In 1981, he voted for a constitutional amendment allowing states to overturn Roe v. Wade; but the next year he voted against such an amendment.
In a 2012 vice presidential debate, Biden warned that the opposing ticket would appoint judges who would outlaw abortion, and promised that a Democratic administration would not do that.
In the 2008 vice presidential debate, he bragged about spearheading “the fight against Judge Bork,” a Supreme Court judicial nominee in 1987, warning that Bork would have changed Roe v. Wade if he were confirmed to the Court.
In a 2008 interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said Roe is “as close to a consensus that can exist in a society as heterogeneous as ours” in that it left decisions on life to the mother in the first trimester of pregnancy, allowed the states some intervention in the second trimester, and that “the weight of the government’s input” in the third trimester is that the pregnancy is carried to term.
Biden’s 2020 campaign platform calls for the codification of Roe v. Wade as federal law. It also would ensure, as part of a health care “public option,” coverage of “a woman’s constitutional right to choose.”
In 1984 then-Senator Biden supported the Mexico City Policy, which bars taxpayer funding of foreign NGOs that promote or perform abortion as a method of family planning. He was also for years a supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding of elective abortions in the U.S.
Shortly after announcing his candidacy for president in April this year, Biden reversed his support for Hyde after Democrats highlighted his long-time stance, prompting a backlash from other candidates and the progressive wing of the party. He also abandoned his support for the Mexico City Policy, promising to overturn the rule if elected.
Biden also favors reinstating taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
In 1995 and again in 1997, Biden voted to ban partial-birth abortion, but was vocally critical of the Supreme Court’s decision that upheld a partial-birth abortion ban, saying that it could open the door for the repeal of Roe v. Wade.
(Story continues below)
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A point of consistency for Biden has been his opposition to parental notification laws and laws barring minors from seeking abortions out-of-state, both of which he has spoken against. His 2020 campaign platform calls for ending state “TRAP” laws on abortion, or laws restricting abortion access such as requiring parental notification or mandatory waiting periods.