Watch Jen Psaki Masterfully Shut Down a Reporter's Abortion Question

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Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

During a White House press briefing on Thursday, Owen Jones, a reporter for the Catholic news network EWTN, asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki about President Biden’s stance on abortion. “Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches that abortion is morally wrong?"

Psaki answered the question without hesitation or sensation: “Well, he believes that it's a woman's right, it's a woman's body, and it's her choice.” But when she tried to move on, Jones cut her off and pushed further, "Who does he believe then should look out for the unborn child?"

Psaki stayed cool and repeated herself: “He believes that it's up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor.” Then she fired back: “I know you've never faced those choices. Nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing. The president believes their rights should be respected.”

Jones attempted to ask more questions but Psaki shut him down, saying: “You’ve had plenty of time today.” The moment was a showcase in how to handle controversial questions from reporters with a clear agenda to provoke.

While Biden’s views on abortion are at odds with Catholic teaching, they are in line with the majority of Catholic voters who believe abortion should be legal in most if not all cases, according to recent polling from the Pew Research Foundation.

In June, conservative Catholic bishops voted to advance a document that could allow bishops to deny Communion to politicians like Biden, perhaps the most devout politician other than Jimmy Carter, who support abortion. The decision came after the Vatican warned American bishops against politicizing Catholic tradition.

Jones’ question was one of many that Psaki answered about the White House’s response to a new Texas law that bans abortions after 6 weeks, before most women know they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse or incest. It also effectively incentivizes Texans to partake in pro-life vigilantism by allowing anyone in Texas to sue an abortion provider. It then rewards them with $10,000 for any lawsuit that successfully stops an abortion.

Abortion rights advocates sued and hoped the Supreme Court would step in to prevent the law from taking effect on Wednesday. Instead, a five-person conservative majority decided to let the ban stand. In their decision, they wrote that there are “serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law,” but said the law should stand while the lower courts litigate the question.

In a statement on the ruling, Biden called the decision an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights.” “For the majority to do this without a hearing, without the benefit of an opinion from a court below, and without due consideration of the issues, insults the rule of law and the rights of all Americans to seek redress from our courts,” Biden said.

The president vowed to launch a “whole-of-government effort” to respond to the court’s decision, adding that he intends to instruct federal agencies to ensure women in Texas can still access safe and legal abortions, as protected by 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling.

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