Joe Biden Speaks Broadly on Abortion at Planned Parenthood Event

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden apparently struggled to explain how he would protect abortion access during a Planned Parenthood event Saturday.

Speaking to moderators at a Planned Parenthood forum, Biden seemed adamant that he's never vacillated as a strong supporter of abortion rights. "I'm not sure about the mixed record part," Biden told Kelley Robinson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood's political arm.

Robinson had highlighted that some voters might be concerned about Biden's past ambivalence on matters of sexual and reproductive health.

Biden's history may explain why some have those questions about the Democratic candidate. Earlier this month, he reversed his support for the Hyde Amendment—a law that blocks government health programs like Medicaid from covering abortions.

This came after he declared his staunch support for it on the campaign trail and faced sharp criticism from Democratic voters as some of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws passed in states inlcluding Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana this year.

In a Washingtonian profile published the year after the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a nationwide right to abortion, Biden said that the Supreme Court decision on abortion "went too far" and that he "[didn't] think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body."

In 1982, he bolstered that view in the Judiciary Committee by reportedly casting a vote in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have overturned Roe v. Wade.

The proposal claimed the Constitution offered women no inherent right to abortion and that, under the amendment, the federal government and states would be free to regulate or ban abortion as they pleased.

But on Saturday, Biden, who spoke in broad strokes on the issue, said that he "would codify Roe v. Wade" if he were elected president.

When a veteran who had been raped and wasn't able to get an abortion asked Biden how he would expand access, the Democratic candidate failed to say the word 'abortion.'

He chastised her abuser and said that "the idea that there is a notion that anywhere in the world that a woman who is raped under any circumstances can be denied access, whether you're in the military or anywhere else, is absolutely bizarre ... It's simply wrong."

Biden added: "You should have access to—you should have access to affordable—and if you don't have it and you happen to have it—the VA benefits that you have, including your health care, should cover your circumstance."

Biden for Planned Parenthood
Former Vice President, Joe Biden, adresses the audience at the We Decide: Planned Parenthood Action Fund 2020 Election Forum to Focus on Abortion and Reproductive Rights event in Columbia, SC on June, 22 2019. LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images