Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is reversing course and declaring that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.

Biden made the declaration Thursday following two days of intense scrutiny and criticism from rivals after his campaign affirmed that the 76-year-old former vice president still supported the Hyde Amendment.

Biden said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta that keeping Hyde would prevent poor women from exercising their constitutional rights to terminate a pregnancy. He pointed to Republican-run states imposing new abortion restrictions.

A woman walks past the stage as she works to setup for the I Will Vote Gala where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
A woman walks past the stage as she works to setup for the I Will Vote Gala where Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Democratic front-runner defended his previous support for the Hyde Amendment. He said he supported it because he thought that there was wide enough access to abortion services without any Medicaid or other government support for it.