Biden Ramps Up Pro-Abortion Rhetoric After Heartbeat Bill Becomes Law in Texas

Neither faith nor reason appears to be guiding the president’s latest shift toward even stronger support for abortion rights.

President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday. (photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden said Friday that he does not believe that human life begins at conception, a reversal from a statement he made in 2015 that he was “prepared to accept that the moment of conception is a human life and being. But I’m not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God fearing people that have a different view.” 

When discussing the issue six years ago, Biden had cited his views on abortion as “a matter of faith.” In January, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred to him as a “devout Catholic” when asked about his stance on abortion policy. But after a Texas law banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat at around six weeks and enforced by lawsuits from private citizens took effect last week, President Biden has made his support of abortion more explicit, dispensing with past claims of private reservations on abortion related to his faith. 

“I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception,” Biden said Friday. “I don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.” He also emphasized that he “has been” and will “continue to be a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade.” 

Yet his support of Roe v. Wade has not been as constant in his political career as his statement implies. In 1973, when he began his Senate career he was pro-life and argued that the Supreme Court had gone “too far” on abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision. He stated in 1974 that a woman shouldn’t have the “sole right to say what should happen to her body.” Over the subsequent decades, Biden shifted on abortion with his stance that “those of us who are opposed to abortions should not be compelled to pay for them” before finally falling away in 2019 on the campaign trail where he embraced taxpayer-funded abortion fully. 

In 2007, he told Meet the Press, when asked about when life began, that he was “prepared to accept my Church’s view. I think it’s a tough one. I have to accept that on faith.” This earned him a rebuke from Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishop James Conley who responded that “modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it.” The bishops added that “if, as Sen. Biden said, ‘I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,’ then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (2271).

Given his statement Friday, Biden apparently no longer accepts the view that life begins at conception, whether that view is based on faith or science. Texas’ law has also caused the Biden administration to spell out their position on abortion more clearly than in past statements.

As the National Network of Abortion Funds’ website noted, President Biden’s statement after the Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law Wednesday was the first time he actually used the word “abortion” in an official statement. Biden said Thursday he was launching “a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically 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.” 

EWTN reporter Owen Jensen asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Thursday why the president supports abortion “when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong.” Psaki replied that President Biden believes abortion is a “woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body, and it’s her choice.” This statement is a far cry from a 2006 interview in which Biden said he did not “view abortion as a choice and a right” but “always a tragedy.”

Jensen followed up asking, “Who does he believe, then, should look out for the unborn child?” Psaki replied that Biden “believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor” and told Jensen that she knew he’d “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 right should be respected.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has also invoked gender in responses to questions about abortion, at one point saying that she knew “more about having babies than the pope.” However, many pro-life women disagree with the Biden administration’s support of abortion on an unborn child with a detectable heartbeat. Women are only slightly more in favor of abortion than men, according to Gallup’s 2021 polling which found that 19% of both women and men believed abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, 45% of women and 50% of men said it should be legal only under certain circumstances, and 36% of women and 29% of men said it should be legal under any circumstances.

Caravaggio, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas,” c. 1601

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