Obama and the Hyde Amendment

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


During the White House press briefing on Wednesday, many questions were hurled at press secretary Robert Gibbs about the abortion executive order that President Barack Obama would be signing that afternoon. Most of these queries concerned the politics surrounding the order, which Obama had offered Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), an anti-abortion advocate, as an incentive to support the health care reform legislation. The order doesn’t change existing law, as Gibbs and other White House aides have repeatedly noted. But it did mark an instance when Obama would have to put his signature on an order restating the Hyde Amendment restrictions on the federal funding of abortion that he had previously opposed. With that in mind, I posed a question. Here’s the exchange:

CORN: Thanks.  In 2007, during the campaign, the President said that he does not support the Hyde Amendment and the federal government should not intrude onto a poor woman’s decision whether to carry to term or terminate her pregnancy. So my question today is, as he signs this executive order, which will further enshrine the Hyde Amendment, how does he feel about that?

GIBBS: David, I would have to see what — I don’t know the comment that you’re referring to.

CORN: He was opposed to the Hyde Amendment.

MR. GIBBS:  Yes, I’d have to —

ANOTHER REPORTER: It was in a questionnaire, a pro-choice questionnaire.

CORN: It was in a questionnaire —

GIBBS:  And I’ll have somebody — I haven’t — you can just assume I haven’t looked at a questionnaire in quite some time.

CORN: But you stipulate that he opposed the Hyde Amendment, correct?

GIBBS:  I would stipulate that the President believes in a woman’s right to choose.

That was it. Gibbs wouldn’t even acknowledge that Obama had once opposed the Hyde Amendment. It seemed a sensitive issue.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.