White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki lashed into a male reporter on Thursday after he questioned how President Biden could support abortion rights despite his Catholic faith — in light of the president’s strong critique of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Texas’ controversial abortion bill.
“Following up on the Texas law, why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?” asked Owen Jensen, a DC reporter for Eternal Word Television Network, known for its Catholic-focused programming.
Psaki initially responded by saying it’s the president’s belief that “it’s a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her choice.”
Jensen pressed further, asking, “Who does he believe then should look out for the unborn child?”
“He believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions. And up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor,” Psaki said before firing 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 that right should be respected.”
The law, which is now the strictest in the country since Row v. Wade, has been heavily critized for its ban of abortions at six weeks and its allowing of private citizens to bring legal action against anyone who assisted in terminating the pregnancy, including those who drive a woman to the abortion appointment.
Citizens who win such lawsuits may be entitled to at least $10,000.
The only exception granted under the law is for a “serious medical emergency” in which the doctor must prove the woman could die or face serious bodily impairment if the abortion isn’t carried out.
Biden slammed the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday, calling it an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.”
“By allowing a law to go into effect that empowers private citizens in Texas to sue health care providers, family members supporting a woman exercising her right to choose after six weeks, or even a friend who drives her to a hospital or clinic, it unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts,” he said in a statement.
“Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities.”
In response to the ruling, the president has directed the Gender Policy Council and the Office of the White House Counsel to start on a “whole-of-government” response to see what steps the Federal government can take to protect the abortion rights of women in Texas.
In light of his strong statement earlier in the day, Psaki was pushed during the briefing on the president’s plan of action when it comes to the future of the Supreme Court. In April, Biden signed an executive order creating a commission to examine the highest court, looking at several questions including term limits and expansion.
As the commission’s findings are due in October, questions have been raised on what actions Biden plans to take towards the court.
Psaki left the options open, saying the president is “waiting for the conclusion of this report, looks forward to reviewing it and seeing where [the commission come’s] out.”
“I can’t predict for you, I don’t know where he’s going to land,” she added. “I’m going to leave the space for the president to determine that.”