A central topic at the White House Daily Press Briefing on Thursday was the Supreme Court’s refusal to block a Texas anti-abortion law.
A standout moment came when a male reporter pressed White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on President Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights while his Catholic faith does not.
“Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion as morally wrong?” the reporter asked.
“He believes that it’s a woman’s right. It’s a woman’s body, and it’s her choice,” Psaki responded.
The reporter followed up. “Who does he believe, then, should look out for the unborn child?”
Psaki replied, “He believes that it is up to a woman to make those decisions, and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor. I know you have never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredible difficult thing. The president believes their right should be respected.”
The reporter tried to press her further, but Psaki moved on to another question. “You’ve had plenty of time today,” she told him.
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The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 order issued late Wednesday, refused to immediately block the Texas law. It is a virtual ban on abortions in the state, banning abortions when heart activity can be detected, something that typically happens at about the sixth week during a pregnancy. The law’s enforcement is not via state officials but private citizens, who can sue those who perform or assist in an abortion.
Although the five justices who let the Texas law stand said that they were not deciding on the constitutionality of the law itself, their decision has been viewed as a potential prelude to an eventual rollback of 1973’s Roe v. Wade, given the court’s 6-3 conservative majority. One of the conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, sided with the court’s three liberals in holding that the law should be sidelined until it could go through full judicial review.
Biden issued a statement Thursday in which he promised a “whole of government” response. He said that the administration would look to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice “to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”
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