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Joe Biden's Record in the Senate on Abortion

He wasn't as extreme as Obama.

4:35 PM, Oct 10, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Ahead of the vice presidential debate, Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee takes a close look at Joe Biden's record on abortion

[I]t is likely that abortion will come up one way or another in the debate.  When it does, most likely Biden will give voice to the Obama campaign theme that Romney and Ryan hold "extreme" views on pro-life issues, or even that Republicans are waging a "war on women."  

Yet, for anyone who is familiar with Biden's actual record during his decades in the U.S. Senate, this begs for a couple of follow up questions -- such as, "Mr. Biden, since you yourself voted for several major types of pro-life legislation for a period of decades in the U.S. Senate -- taking positions the same as Mr. Ryan on those issues -- when exactly did you decide that those positions were 'extreme'?"  Or even better, "Mr. Biden, isn't it hypocritical for you to criticize Mr. Ryan for supporting positions for which you yourself often voted as a U.S. senator -- especially since your record is opposite the positions taken by Barack Obama on those same issues?"

Many readers might be surprised to read the statement made by to the Wall Street Journal in 1986 by Jeannie Rosoff, then a top official of Planned Parenthood:  "Joe Biden moans a lot and then usually votes against us."

This is not to say that Biden was ever a solid, consistent supporter of the pro-life agenda, as Ryan has been.  Even early in Biden's long Senate career, which began in 1973, he suggested that allowing legal abortion (at least early in pregnancy) was "consistent with the tenets of religious freedom."  But he also said he thought Roe v. Wade had gone too far -- and in 1982, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he voted for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.  An objective examination of Biden's record in the Senate (1973 through 2008) reveals him to be a long way from Barack Obama.  On many key pro-life issues, including limits on late abortion and federal funding of abortion, Biden voted for legislation that is consistent with the votes cast by Paul Ryan -- and in stark contrast with the extreme pro-abortion positions taken by Obama both as a legislator and as president.  

For example, throughout his Senate career Biden voted for the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting most federal funding of abortion.  Indeed, Biden explicitly advocated that the Hyde Amendment should contain an exception only to save the life of the mother, and he voted repeatedly against adding exceptions for rape and incest to the amendment.  Biden also consistently voted for the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.  He expressed concern that the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" would go too far in overturning state abortion limitations. 

Johnson goes on to detail four policy issues where Biden was less extreme than Obama on the issue of abortion.

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