This week, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled his health care plan, which attempts to build on the Affordable Care Act. The most notable detail is that it will expand Medicaid and include a taxpayer-sponsored, or “public option,” insurance plan available to everyone.
Most of the subsequent coverage and commentary has focused on the fact Biden is differing from some other candidates by not supporting a “Medicare For All” plan. Indeed, in recent days, Biden has received sharp criticism from Bernie Sanders and other presidential candidates.
Receiving less attention are the plan’s policies dealing with sanctity of life issues. Most of the positions are boilerplate ones we might expect from Democratic presidential candidates. For example, oe Biden supports both federal funding for Planned Parenthood and codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law. In his health-care plan, he also reaffirmed his newfound opposition to the Hyde Amendment, which limits the ability of federal taxpayer dollars to pay for elective abortions.
However, what is unique and what should concern pro-life voters is that, according to his plan, Biden wants the U.S. Justice Department to stop a variety of incremental pro-life laws. These include parental involvement laws, clinic regulations, and waiting periods.
It is by no means clear what a Biden-led Justice Department could actually do about these particular pro-life laws. State-level waiting periods, parental involvement laws, and clinic regulations have all been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the aftermath of both the Roe v. Wade and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions.
That said, Biden is now on the record opposing another set of incremental pro-life laws that enjoy very broad public support. Indeed, five separate Gallup polls taken since 1992 all show that more than 69 percent of Americans support parental involvement laws. Similarly, four polls taken by Gallup since 1992 all find that more than two-thirds of Americans support a law requiring women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours before having the procedure done.
Overall, it seems that Biden and his campaign team may be overreacting to Biden’s performance in the first presidential debate. Since his exchange with Kamala Harris, Biden’s campaign has made a concerted effort to rehabilitate his standing with liberal voters.
These extreme positions on abortion may offer some short-term benefit to Biden during the primaries. However, a body of polling data shows that they will almost certainly cost him during the general election.
Indeed, should Biden receive the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, President Trump and other Republicans should make Biden’s opposition to nearly all incremental pro-life laws—including clinic regulations, waiting periods, and parental involvement laws—a key issue in the 2020 election.