White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly refused Friday to answer a reporter’s questions about whether President Joe Biden believes life begins at conception.
The exchange began with EWTN Washington Correspondent Owen Jensen asking how the “debate over abortion” will shape Biden’s U.S. Supreme Court selection process to fill the seat of soon-retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. Psaki responded by repeating known pledges on the matter.
“The President is going to select an eminently qualified black woman to serve on the Court, someone — and he’s going to do that through consulting with a range of members of Congress, through outside experts, and obviously through engagement with them directly,” she said. “But I don’t think I’m going to give you more specifics from here.”
That’s when Jensen asked if the candidate would need to be “pro-abortion,” and Psaki immediately rebuffed the question, stating someone else had asked a similar inquiry and that she wouldn’t “outline litmus tests.”
Despite Psaki making it clear she didn’t want to continue on the subject, Jensen moved into a related question about Biden’s beliefs on life and conception, an issue of pertinence considering Biden was once openly a pro-life member of Congress.
“Following up on that, the president has said in the past he does not believe that life begins at conception,” he said. “When does he believe it begins?”
Psaki refused to answer directly, proclaiming that Biden “believes in a woman’s right to choose.” An unsatisfied Jensen noted that this didn’t answer his question. And Psaki, who wasn’t planning to back down, hit back by noting that the journalist always asks the same question and that she has nothing new to add.
Jensen then defiantly repeated his question and underscored the importance of receiving a viable response.
“The question is: When does he believe life — and essential to the debate over the question of a baby’s viability, pro-life Americans — don’t you agree? — should know where the president stands on his thinking on this,” he said. “It’s a fundamental question.”
Declining to go off script, Psaki again responded, “The president believes in a woman’s right to choose.”
Watch the back-and-forth unfold:
A still-undeterred Jensen decided to borrow from the same page and ask again about when Biden thinks life begins, which sparked Psaki’s quest to move on to another reporter before Jensen transitioned to another question and kept her attention. The exchange continued on an unrelated topic.
The moment was intriguing for a variety of reasons. Above all else, it’s clear the administration doesn’t want to delve deeper into the sensitive nature of the debate over when life begins.
Still, the issue is sure to continue to be a point of contention, especially as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its decision on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which could derail portions — if not all — of Roe v. Wade. This 1973 Supreme Court case legalized abortion in America.
The exchange also comes after Biden, who says he is a practicing Catholic, surprised the public in September when he said he doesn’t believe life begins at conception.
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