Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine has reportedly changed his mind on a long-standing policy preventing government funding of most abortions, less than three weeks after affirming his support for the measure.
The reported change has led critics to charge that the Democratic Party is intolerant of those within its ranks who hold pro-life views – even moderate ones.
For 30 years, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited certain taxpayer funds – generally those through the Department of Health and Human Services – from going toward abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is deemed to be at stake.
The amendment has enjoyed widespread bipartisan support and has been renewed every year since 1976 in annual appropriations bills, regardless of which party was in power at the time.
For the first time, however, the Democratic platform this year explicitly called for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, prompting pro-life activists to call it the “most extreme" platform on abortion ever.
Kaine is a Catholic with a complicated record on abortion. While he says that he personally opposes abortion, he supports it politically.
As Governor of Virginia, he often spoke of adoption as the best solution to unwanted pregnancy, and approved the sale of “Choose Life" license plates, whose proceeds help fund pro-life clinics. He supported abstinence-only sex education for a time (although he later cut funding saying the program was not working), and backed Virginia’s informed consent law, which requires women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound of the developing fetus prior to the procedure.
However, since entering the Senate in 2010, his record has shifted significantly. He has maintained a consistently pro-abortion voting record, earning him a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
On July 6, Kaine was asked by The Weekly Standard about language in a draft of the Democratic Party’s platform which called for an end to the Hyde Amendment.
Kaine said that he was not aware of change, adding, “I have traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment, but I’ll check it out."
On July 22, Kaine was officially announced as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Four days later, CNN reported that the Virginia senator had changed his stance on the Hyde Amendment.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, blasted the decision as caving to the demands of the abortion industry.
“Just 20 days ago Senator Kaine said he supported the Hyde Amendment, which stops taxpayers from funding abortion on-demand," she said. “What has changed? The Democratic Party has become so bound to the abortion industry that there is no room for conscience. Before he could be considered fit for the role of VP to Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kaine had to divest himself of even the appearance of moderation on the abortion issue."
“Clinton, Kaine, and (Planned Parenthood head Cecile) Richards are absolute extremists pushing the Democratic Party further and further on abortion, alienating the one-third of Democrats who call themselves pro-life," Dannenfelser added.