Joe Biden’s Long Evolution on Abortion Rights Holds Surprises

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's stance on abortion has grown more supportive over the decades. But his past opposition to most federal funding for abortion services is more striking than his supporters may be aware of, according to an analysis of his Senate record by NBC News

The one-time U.S. senator from Delaware opposed Medicaid to fund abortion services with exceptions for victims of rape and incest, in addition to concerns for the woman's life, back in 1977. The rape and incest exceptions passed in that case, but Biden voted in 1981 to again remove them, in what was the most far-reaching ban on federal funds ever enacted by Congress. Biden also voted to prevent federal workers from using health services on abortion services, except in cases to save the life of the mother. 

Biden, a Roman Catholic who personally opposes abortion, recently told supporters in an email that "I refuse to impose my religious beliefs on other people." 

But his campaign confirmed to NBC News that he still supports the four-decade-old Hyde Amendment which bans federal funding for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman, setting him apart from other Democratic candidates running for president.

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