White House Press Secretary dodges question: Must Supreme Court nominee be 'pro-abortion'?

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The White House refused to say whether President Joe Biden’s pick for the next Supreme Court justice must be pro-abortion, during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to outline a litmus test from here today,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Feb. 1. Her comments came in response to EWTN correspondent Owen Jensen, who asked, “Will that person have to be pro-abortion?” 

While Psaki declined to say more about the future Supreme Court nominee in regards abortion, she repeated to Jensen that the president “believes in a woman’s right to choose.”

On Jan. 27, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his upcoming retirement this summer, at age 83. In response, Biden renewed his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the court.

"I will nominate someone with extraordinary qualifications, charity, experience and integrity,” Biden said at the time. “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”

When Jensen asked how the debate over abortion would shape Biden’s selection process, Psaki echoed Biden’s words.

“The president is going to select an eminently-qualified Black woman to serve on the court,” she said at the press briefing. “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.”

During the same line of questioning, Jensen asked Psaki when Biden believes life begins. He noted that Biden previously said he does not believe that life begins at conception.

“You know the president’s position,” Psaki said. “He believes in a woman’s right to choose, and he’s spoken to this in the past.”

She added: “I know you ask this every time you come in here, which is your absolute right, but I don’t think I have anything new to reveal for you.”

Jensen pressed again.

“It’s essential to the debate over the question of a baby’s viability and pro-life Americans, don’t you agree, should know where the president stands in his thinking,” Jensen said. “It’s a fundamental question.”

Psaki repeated, “The president believes in a woman’s right to choose.”

Last September, Jensen made headlines after asking Psaki about the Texas’ newly-enacted abortion ban.

“I know you've never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant,” Psaki rebuked Jensen, “but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing.”

Jensen followed up by asking, "Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?”

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Psaki responded that the president believes that abortion is a “woman's right, it's a woman's body, and it's her choice.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.” 

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

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