Joe Biden, 2006: “I do not view abortion as a choice and a right. I think it’s always a tragedy”

Originally published at:

Biden said he was ‘odd man out’ with Democrats on abortion in 2006


2006? Give me a break.

Did anyone here refuse to vote for Barack Obama because he opposed same sex marriage in 2008?

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“Abortion should be safe, legal, rare, and only available to the daughters of the wealthy.”


I can tell you I was not happy with his position on marriage equality - plus this ignores the DNC platform in 2008, which I believe was supportive of marriage equality. If Biden changes his views, that’s great. But this view on abortion is a deal breaker for me, and I suspect many other women. My bodily autonomy is not up for debate. Full stop. Just like human rights and full equality before the law should NEVER be up for debate - you or anyone else does not get to vote away the rights of others.

As long as full support for Roe and women’s rights is a plank in the DNC platform then I’m satisfied with whoever they put up. Because we already know that the GOP does not believe in equality for women.

But saying that we can’t criticize Biden because reasons, especially during the primary season, is missing the entire point of this political exercise.


I’m not defending the statement, and I disagree, but “safe, legal, and rare” was Democratic party orthodoxy in 2006.

Here’s HRC making similar statements in 2008:

ETA: (I mistakenly put a link here to a pro-life org. My bad, guys!)

The Discourse® has well and truly moved on, however.


That’s true. It was bullshit then, and it’s bullshit now.

Indeed. Bodily autonomy is not up for debate, should be the rallying cry. Because, I promise, if it can happen to women, it can happen to men too (meaning losing their right to their bodily autonomy).


“Safe, legal, and rare” just in terms of rhetoric and electoral positioning is classic Clintonian centrist triangulation. It’s designed to thread a very small needle in a way that satisfies nobody. And now that the zeitgeist has moved on it has aged about as well as a pound of ground chicken.


Well, I don’t know the full context, but I think that safe, legal and rare is a good goal. But not rare because we outlaw it or put restrictions on it—rare because we make sure women (and men) have access to contraception and that all (most) pregnancies are planned. It is a tragedy when someone gets pregnant unnecessarily and didn’t want to be. I would think that people on both sides of the debate would tend to agree on the sentiments. As far as saying it is “not a choice” and “not a right,” I am not sure he is saying that it isn’t truly a choice or a right—I think he is saying he views it as a tragedy that someone had to even make that decision. That is, he isn’t focusing on that choice/right part of the argument, he is feeling something different and sees it through a different lens.


Biden has a long and infamous career of being conservative on fiscal issues, conservative on social issues, and fighting hard for Republican policies. He really does want to make the Democratic Party over into the Republican Party even moreso than the rest of the Inner Circle. He is also a loud-and-proud fan of billionaires running the country because they’re “great guys.”

The only reason to vote for Uncle Joe is if you believe that only a Republican can beat a Republican.


It really wasn’t great at the time either, and it’s part of what helped us to get to this current state with regards to women’s bodily autonomy, that democrats were absolutely willing to see it as a niche issue, which can be traded away for other things. The hard right had the enthusiasm, and built on that to a point where we have states that are passing laws nullifying pretty much a century and a half of gains made by women.

I think not having a bunch of men in suits make medical decisions for the rest of us. Biden never has to worry about becoming pregnant himself, so maybe he should have shut up about it from day one and listened to people who it actually impacts for a good 30 or so years of our lives.


Uncle Joe! Go the fu#k away.


Meh, I wouldn’t mind “rare” if the reasons for rare were "cheap (or free, free is good), accessible and effective birth control (do not anyone @ me about how abstinence fits those categories), comprehensive sexual education, an extremely strong consent culture… You know, all the things we don’t have. In other words, rather than “rare because of restrictions” it should be “not often needed”.

Because that’s the funny thing: when women have control over their own bodies and have options for not becoming pregnant in the first place, they tend to go for that option, unless they want to be pregnant.


And there are definitely groups that have taken up this cause. (I’m intimately familiar with this as I have a family member that’s a well known figure in the US anti-circumcision movement.)

But in any event, as I said before comparing male circumcision to abortion is really a pretty terrible false equivalence.

On the other hand, I think this is a fair statement:

I agree, but the unfortunate thing is that those groups that are opposed to abortion are often also the same groups that try to limit access and options for contraceptives and education.


Right… all of which means that abortion itself should not be legislated. Period. Ever.

Put that on a shirt! The reality is that it will always be a NEEDED procedure, in part because sometimes pregnancies get pretty far before they become unviable, and it’s hard enough without having to carry a dead fetus to term, because rape happens, because even the best birth control CAN fail, because people get cancer or other illnesses, because circumstances can change in an instant, etc, etc, etc. Anti-choice groups want us to all live in this perfect world where we can all happily conform to what they consider ideal… but we live in reality, and reality is messy. Shit happens all the time, and we need to be able to plan for all contingencies. Taking away rights is NOT how to do that.

Because their goal is the control of women’s reproductive capacity, not ensuring healthy pregnancies for those that want them. We are no where NEAR having that in our current ignorant and backwards landscape that is America. The entire goal is stripping women of autonomy. Doing so will strip all other members of society of that autonomy, too, with regards to medical decisions.


Mod note: anyone trying to equate elective procedures by parents or strawmen like “the draft” to justify why women should be forced to carry children to term (something that often results in permanent changes to the women involved, including death, not to mention the social and economic effects on both parents and children) are going to find their posts or accounts rapidly eaten.

The right for law-abiding folks to make choices about their body should be absolute, full stop, and Boing Boing has zero interest in supporting discussions that suggest that anything less should be permitted “because reasons”. Forget that crap.


As an obstetrician who offers abortion care, I agree with you. But I think that one can support the right for women to have control over their own bodies while also working to decrease the number of women who have to face the choice of an abortions by helping women have MORE control over their own bodies (eg, family planning education, access to contraception, heck even teaching men to have more respect for their partners).


First, thanks for your hard work. It’s appreciated in this time when women’s rights are under attack. It really and truly is.

I’m all for education, planning, access to contraception, etc, and believe that that should go without saying. There are states (even before this current round of anti-choice laws) that have it to a point where there are only a few clinics in the entire state, on top of which they tend to be states that do not have comprehensive sex ed, so those 2 things go hand in hand. Because the decision to restrict abortion is not about the fetus, but about controlling women.

I’d argue that that is NOT what Biden (and the rare, legal view) are advocating, not really. They might have tacit support for comprehensive sex ed, but the reality is that they were willing to treat the issue as a marginal, niche issue, which only (HA, ONLY) impacts half the population. They were willing to allow state laws restricting abortion and to include politicians in the party who did not support the right to reproductive care, if it gave the wins. That’s my problem with Biden’s position, that he doesn’t see it as a human rights issue, but one that can be bargained and traded over for other “more important” issues.

But over and above all of that, is the deeper issue of privacy rights, which is the basis for decisions such as Griswold, Roe, and some of the more recent gay rights/ marriage equality decisions. You undermine the right to privacy, we’re all fucked, quite honestly. Over and above people like yourself, who provide health care for women, every single citizen who values their privacy should care about Roe being overturned. Because that’s what will happen if it is, other than the right to health care being further stripped from one group of people.


Well, also the mistresses of the wealthy too.




That was for sure the intent of the Party orthodoxy at the time: limit the need for abortion through good sex ed, easy access to birth control, and financial support for those who choose to keep the child, with safe bortion a choice for those who fall though the cracks.

What Biden’s intent was in 2006 I don’t know, I stopped paying much attention to him as candidate after 1988. However, what I believed about him 30 years ago, and still believe about him, is that he doesn’t actually have policy beliefs on anything, that he is a purely political animal. He has some personal values, and not bad ones, but they are vague and nonspecific and you can fit a whole spectrum of positions into them, including seeming-contradictory ones.

A great example of this was the ACA. While he had long supported the idea that health care was a fundamental right, he initially opposed ACA on purely political grounds, and apparently advocated against it within the WHite House. However, once it was clear that Obama was going to move ahead with it, it was politically important that it actully pass, and Biden became one of its most important advocates, strongarming legislators to get on board.

As president the main way he can have a lasting effect on abortion rights will be to appoint federal judges who respect Roe v Wade. At the Supreme Court level, given that he lacks imagination, if given a chance he will likely try again with Garland. At the level of lower courts, I can certainly imagine him appointing “good people” who aren’t strongly pro-choice. And that could be a problem.