Posted by on September 23, 2022 5:42 pm
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White House attacks Republicans but won’t say if Biden backs any abortion limits

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh/AP

White House attacks Republicans but won’t say if Biden backs any abortion limits

W. James Antle III September 23, 04:42 PMSeptember 23, 04:42 PM Video Embed

The White House declined on Friday to specify whether President Joe Biden favors any limits to abortion, instead pivoting to opposing various anti-abortion measures backed by Republicans.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened the briefing by noting the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’s opposition to the 15-week abortion ban introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), saying its enactment would create a national health emergency for women.

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Jean-Pierre was later pressed on whether Biden had a number of weeks at which he would oppose abortion, given that Republicans have laid down 15 weeks as the marker. The Mississippi case at issue in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, was also a ban after 15 weeks.

“We’ve been very, very clear here,” she replied. “Since you’re talking about my topper, I was talking specifically about Sen. Lindsey Graham. … I was speaking directly to what Republicans are trying to do. They are calling for a national ban, which takes us backwards.”

In response to a follow-up question, Jean-Pierre repeated, “It’s a national ban that will take us backwards — and will put at risk the health of women.”

“It’s just [a] national ban on abortion,” she continued. “We’re talking about privacy. We’re talking about contraception. We’re talking about marriage. That is what extreme Republican officials are trying to do. That’s what we’re speaking to. I’m not going to get into specifics here. I’m just going to lay out what they have said they are going to do.”

This is a reference to Justice Clarence Thomas saying in a concurring opinion that other precedents finding unenumerated rights based on substantive due process should be reviewed. The actual majority opinion in Dobbs by Justice Samuel Alito goes at lengths to differentiate abortion from marriage, contraception, and other areas.

Jean-Pierre was then asked why she wouldn’t be specific about Biden’s position. She shifted to attacking the GOP agenda outlined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

“I’m not asking about Kevin McCarthy, I’m asking about Joe Biden and his position on abortion,” shot back Fox News’s Peter Doocy. “How many weeks?”

“Peter, I am answering your question,” Jean-Pierre said. “What Republicans are trying to do is take us backwards. They are trying to take away the rights and freedoms of Americans. That’s what we’re calling out, and that’s what we’re going to continue to call out.”

“We should really listen to what Republicans are trying to tell us,” she added. “And that’s what we are speaking out against, and that’s what we’re going to talk about — about the national ban that Republicans are continuing to push when a majority of Americans do not want that.”

The president’s top spokeswoman then moved on. “I answered your question,” she said. “You did not answer my question,” Doocy interjected.

Biden has in the past voted to ban partial-birth abortion and other late-term abortions, even after he became a supporter of abortion rights in general. Biden, the second Catholic president, opposed Roe as a young senator.

He has recently implied, though not directly stated, that he continues to oppose abortion after fetal viability, and he has praised Roe as revised by 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey for adopting the viability standard. He spoke of “the viability line drawn by Roe” in July.

“It was a decision on a complex matter that drew a careful balance between a woman’s right to choose earlier in her pregnancy and the state’s ability to regulate later in her pregnancy,” Biden said of Roe in nationally televised remarks after its reversal. “A decision with broad national consensus that most Americans of faiths and backgrounds found acceptable and that had been the law of the land for most of the lifetime of Americans today.”

But Biden has also moved further toward the left on abortion since his partial-birth abortion votes, abandoning his opposition to taxpayer funding and support for the Hyde Amendment in 2019. Since Dobbs, he has emphasized his backing of abortion and is trying to use the Supreme Court decision as a major driver of Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.

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The president slammed Graham’s bill at a Democratic fundraiser in New York City on Thursday night, where he was introduced by a donor who called the midterm elections “Roe-vember.” Biden claimed Graham’s bill contained “no exceptions — rape, incest — no exceptions.”

“I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic,” he added. “My church doesn’t even make that argument.”

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