Joe Biden made a feeble attempt to defuse Republican criticism of his party’s extreme abortion policy Thursday, saying that there should be vague limitations on killing unborn babies as members of his party avoid defining restrictions they would accept.
Asked if he would support any limits, Biden told a journalist to read Roe v. Wade and “get educated” on the subject, Catholic News Agency reported.
Biden tries to defuse abortion criticism
Biden’s answer comes as Democrats in pivotal midterm election contests have refused to clearly define their position during debates and interviews.
Democrats have generally repeated abstract talking points about abortion being the choice of a woman and her doctor, but some have gone even further: Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, for example, argued on the debate stage that “God gave us a choice,” echoing Biden’s own radical rhetoric.
In his short reply to a question Thursday, Biden sought to portray himself as a reasonable moderate. But his answer didn’t provide a whole lot of clarity on the issue.
“Roe v. Wade,” Biden said. “Read it, man. You’ll get educated.”
Under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion was legal nationwide before “viability,” held to be the point at which a baby can survive outside the womb on its own. By that standard, the U.S. was one of a handful of countries in the world to permit abortion beyond 20 weeks.
Abortion backlash fading
While Democrats have based their campaign messaging around restoring Roe, Republicans say the Democrat bill to “codify Roe” effectively allows abortions until the moment of birth.
Democrats have sought to deflect these attacks by accusing Republicans of wanting to ban abortion without exception.
At an event celebrating abortion on Tuesday, Biden repeated that claim as he pledged to make “codifying Roe” his top priority if Democrats keep their congressional majorities.
“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill that I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade,” Biden said.
Despite Biden’s attempt to make the midterm elections a referendum on abortion and the GOP’s “extremism,” the Republican party is surging in the polls as a backlash against the end of Roe fades and voters remain mostly concerned about the weakening economy.