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Commentary

Psaki's Pathetic Dodge of Abortion Question Shows Just How Terrified the Left Is of Defending It

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The left seems to think safe and legal abortion — forget about the rare part — is a slam-dunk with American voters.

If that’s true, though, why is the White House so afraid of it?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the fact “devout Catholic” President Joe Biden, the second individual in communion with Rome to inhabit the Oval Office, may also be the first to be denied Communion thanks to a measure passed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We’ll get to that in a bit, but perhaps it’s also because muss-free, fuss-free baby murder isn’t as uncontroversial with voters as one may think.

Those looking for evidence to support either theory could find it in Monday’s White House news conference.

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In one viral clip, White House press secretary Jen Psaki dodged a question asked by a reporter regarding abortion.

“Does the president believe that a 15-week-old, unborn baby is a human being?” a reporter asked.

“Are you asking me if the president supports a woman’s right to choose? He does,” Psaki responded.

Notice there was no talk of whether “a 15-week-old unborn baby is a human being.” It’s simply a matter of whether or not “the president supports a woman’s right to choose.” Psaki eliminated the words about a baby — or even a fetus — from the conversation and simply made it about a choice, not a child.

There’s context here, keep in mind, and it involves the most serious challenge to untrammeled abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided.

In May, the Supreme Court agreed to take up Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The ban was most recently invalidated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Associated Press.

“States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions. The law at issue is a ban,” Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote in his ruling, affirming a lower-court decision.

The Supreme Court’s choice to take the case — particularly with a 6-3 conservative majority — has rattled the left.

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“The court cannot uphold this law without overturning the principal protections of Roe v. Wade,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters during a call.

The Biden White House knows where it has to come down on this, of course. If it’s as popular of an opinion as liberals have claimed it is, this should be no problem. The evasive language Psaki used should tell you exactly how confident they are that voters will back them in this fight.

There’s also another reason the White House might not want to make their defense of abortion so prominent, particularly as it relates to the “devout Catholic” in the Oval Office.

Should Roe v. Wade be overturned?

Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops passed a measure to draft a document about Communion, specifically including guidance for high-profile politicians who back positions that run contrary to Church teaching — particularly as it relates to abortion — and whether they could be denied Communion.

The vote wasn’t particularly close (168 out of 229 bishops, or 73 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal) and, more critically, it’s clear what politician had done the most to prompt the potential change.

“What’s motivating us as bishops, as teachers, is the Eucharist,” Arlington, Virginia, Bishop Michael Burbidge said, according to the Daily Caller. “Cited throughout our discussions today were the grave concerns about the lack of belief in the real presence, the lack of people going to church, how we are going to get people back to church and that love for the Eucharist.”

Biden was able to get quite a bit of mileage out of the “devout Catholic” label during his campaign and, one suspects, rattling the cage of Mother Church at the moment may not be advisable.

On the other hand, the president also needs a reason for being unabashedly in favor of abortion — including the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits tax dollars from being used to fund elective abortion.

Psaki’s escape hatch this time: Biden’s “faith is personal.”

“Well, Joe Biden is a strong man of faith,” Psaki said when asked about the USCCB vote. “And as he noted just a couple of days ago, it’s personal. He goes to church, as you know, nearly every weekend. He even went when we were on our overseas trip. But it’s personal to him. He doesn’t see it through a political prism and we’re not going to comment otherwise on the inner workings of the Catholic Church.”

“Will statements by the bishops make the president reconsider his public support for policies that, you know, increase access to abortion or allow access to abortion?” the reporter pressed.

“Again, the president’s faith is personal,” Psaki continued. “It’s something that has helped guide him through some challenging moments in his life. And that’s how many Americans see their faith as well, not through a political prism. So I would suspect he will continue to attend church, as he has for many, many years.”

Just in case you didn’t get the message: The president’s faith is personal. We reiterate, the White House has confirmed the president’s faith is indeed personal. Further bulletins as events warrant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

The Bible isn’t an inherently political document, but it’s also not a work to be taken at a merely “personal” level that helps “guide [you] through some challenging moments in [your] life.” That could just as well be “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” or “Tuesdays With Morrie.”

The Bible is the word of God, and that word is awfully straightforward regarding the sanctity and value of human life. If this bedrock fact somehow bypasses the Catholic believer, they have the additional failsafe of a church hierarchy that has been consistent and unambiguous on this matter.

Thus, if neither Biden nor his staff can come out and personally avouch he believes a 15-week-old unborn baby is a human being — even if they want to couch his support for the legality of abortion in constitutional protections — there’s no number of overseas parishes he could visit to convince Catholics this “strong man of faith” has a deeply “personal” belief in God that just doesn’t happen to pass through “a political prism.”

But then, if this is so popular, why manipulate the language? Why even bother convincing Americans Biden is a “devout Catholic” or “a strong man of faith,” both images the White House seems desperate to cultivate?

It’s almost like they know something about the tenability of their position that they’re not willing to let on — such as that, if the Supreme Court upholds Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, Americans might not mind as much as the Democratic Party likes to pretend they would.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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