Oswald Clark and Paul Tuns
Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden released a letter on the weekend expressing their disappointment that Joe Biden is precisely who he says he is: a pro-abortion Democrat who wants to codify Roe v. Wade in law and force American taxpayers to foot the bill for abortions at home and abroad. Once upon a time, Biden supported the Hyde Amendment that prevented US taxpayer dollars going to pay for abortions through Medicaid, but it has been more than a decade since he’s even given lip service to that minimal position. When Biden began running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019 he made it perfectly clear he was fully on-board with every demand of the abortion lobby. Despite the fact that Biden has run the most pro-abortion campaign of any major party candidate, a group of self-identifying pro-life evangelicals held out hope that this was not the real Joe Biden, that his 36-year track record as senator that ended in 2009 somehow trumped the past 11 years as Barack Obama’s vice president and his own presidential campaign, including his 2019 promise to get rid of the Hyde Amendment. A group of mostly no-name evangelicals backed Biden over Trump with a website, Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden, inviting other evangelicals to sign on. Their big “get” was Billy Graham’s granddaughter. The signatories were people with minimal brand-name recognition, some ousted from their various jobs due to their opposition to President Donald Trump, and few had much political clout. During the 2020 presidential election they backed Biden over Trump believing in their heart of hearts that Joe Biden was ultimately a liar: that everything he said about abortion over the past two years being a woman’s right that should be funded by taxpayers was just what he had to say to get the Democratic presidential nomination. Upon such hopes only foolishness is born.
The “American Rescue Plan,” the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief and stimulus bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, is larded with money for Planned Parenthood. The Susan B. Anthony List explains that “following President Biden’s direction to Health and Human Services to review and change the Protect Life Rule that stopped Title X funds from going to abortion providers, this bill would funnel $50 million into what is often referred to as Planned Parenthood’s slush fund.” SBA’s concerns are serious enough that because of “the significant expansion of funding for abortion, insurance that includes abortion, and the abortion industry” and lack of all strictures against abortion funding (Hyde Amendment, respecting the Helms Amendment), they are scoring the vote meaning it is a strike against incumbents voting for the bill.
For some of the same the reasons stated by the Susan B. Anthony List, Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden cannot ignore the vote on this massive relief bill. In their open letter — which is not even available on their website — Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden state that they were “disappointed” that the American Rescue Plan excludes the Hyde Amendment (previous pandemic programs have included it) and that the Biden administration is not fighting for the popular, bipartisan amendment to ensure government programs aren’t funding abortion. Again, Pro-Life Evangelicals for Life should not be surprised — he ran on taxpayer funding of abortion. The group stated in their letter:
The Biden team wanted to talk to us during the campaign to gain our support, and we gave it on the condition there would be active dialogue and common-ground solutions on the issue of abortion. There has been no dialogue since the campaign.
We feel used and betrayed and have no intention of simply watching these kinds of efforts happen from the sidelines. Many evangelicals and Catholics took risks to support Biden publicly. President Biden and Democrats need to honor their courage.
The organization says that many evangelicals and Catholics believed Biden when he said he wanted to find “common ground” but they have seen no such efforts since he’s become president. More than 5,000 evangelical pro-lifers signed the Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden statement, insisting, “Joe Biden’s policies are more consistent with the biblically shaped ethic of life than those of Donald Trump.” They focused on economic issues (the welfare state) that might lead more women to choose life over killing their preborn child.
If the leadership of this group feels used and betrayed, they should: they were used and betrayed. It appears that Biden wanted their endorsement to provide cover to pro-life evangelicals and Catholics who had their misgivings about Trump but were also uncomfortable with the Democrats’ full-throated endorsement of abortion. It also appears that Biden had no interest in finding common ground on abortion funding or any other issue.
Their disappointment is understandable, but there is nothing surprising in this whole sordid affair. The organizers and signatories to Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden betrayed their pro-life and evangelical beliefs to back Biden, and then Biden betrayed them. The scandal goes beyond the President’s betrayal of his erstwhile backers.
Oswald Clark is The Interim’s Washington correspondent.