Yes, President Biden: The Catholic Church still opposes federal funding of abortion | Opinion

It would be an understatement to say that President Joe Biden is prone to stating misleading things.

Indeed, for many of his most ardent supporters, the president’s frequent gaffes and misstatements are almost a kind of endearment.

That’s just Uncle Joe, they say, a sort of tacit approval of the absurd things he says and a subtle acknowledgment of the president’s apparent lack of awareness about it.

But Biden’s response last week to a reporter who approached him about the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on using federal tax dollars to fund abortions wasn’t just misleading, it was flat out false.

And he undoubtedly knew it.

“Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions,” said a reporter from the Catholic news organization EWTN.

The president interrupted: “No, they are not all doing that, and nor is the pope doing that.”

The reporter was referring to a recent letter the bishops sent to Congress in support of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act.” It would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortions or for health plans that include abortion coverage.

Biden is a Catholic, and even if he was unaware or misinformed about the conference’s position on this particular piece of legislation, he most certainly knows the position that the Catholic Church (and the pope!) hold on the matter.

After all, it used to be his position.

Once upon a time, Biden was a voice of moderation when it came to abortion.

Early in his Senate career, he supported (albeit for a short time) a constitutional amendment to allow individual states to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In 2006, he declared during an interview that he viewed abortion as neither a choice nor a right. “I think it’s always a tragedy,” he said.

As recently as 2019, Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, the decades-old measure that restricted federal funding of abortion except in rare circumstances.

But like so many politicians before him, he was for it before he was against it.

And as a Democratic presidential candidate, the pressure on Biden to satisfy the demands of the most progressive elements of his party became so great that it superseded his long-held, and somewhat principled, beliefs about the nature of human life and the government’s role in protecting it.

Last year Biden’s budget proposal fulfilled his campaign promise to end support of the Hyde Amendment.

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden doubled down, calling for a law to codify Roe as policy across the U.S.

His secretary of health and human services, Xavier Becerra, recently suggested the possibility of declaring a public health emergency on abortion. That would probably make it easier for women to access abortion medication, travel out-of-state to get abortions and provide access to funds to obtain abortions — things the Biden of a decade ago might have been reluctant to pursue.

But perhaps worse is Biden’s apparent insistence that his views are not out of line with the faith he purports to practice.

When Biden speaks on topics such as abortion, he does so with a sense of authority, suggesting to others that his beliefs are not only tolerated but accepted by the Catholic Church.

But they are not. His recent comments prompted a clear response from the bishops group, which quickly issued a statement affirming church teaching.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States are united in our commitment to life and will continue to work as one body in Christ to make abortion unthinkable,” wrote the group’s president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

Pope Francis, center, waves to the crowd on Capitol Hill during a 2015 U.S. visit.
Pope Francis, center, waves to the crowd on Capitol Hill during a 2015 U.S. visit.

Perhaps to dispel Biden’s suggestion otherwise, Broglio added: “As the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has said, ‘It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem.’

“Taxpayer funding of abortion would force people of good conscience to participate in this grave evil against their will,” Broglio continued. “Our nation is better than that.”

Indeed, it is. So is Biden’s knowledge of church teaching.

If only he would lead accordingly.