Psaki brushed off a male reporter’s abortion question: ‘I know you’ve never faced those choices’

Reporter and Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters in a September 2 briefing at the white House. Screenshot via White House; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed off a male reporter’s question about abortion.
  • Biden “believes it’s a woman’s right, a woman’s body, and it’s her choice,” Psaki said.
  • “I know you’ve never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant,” she told the reporter.
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White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed a question on abortion from a male reporter during a press briefing on Thursday.

Owen Jensen, a reporter at Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic-focused media company, questioned President Joe Biden’s devotion to the Catholic faith, given his support of abortion rights.

Biden believes that abortion is “a woman’s right, a woman’s body, and it’s her choice,” Psaki responded.

The press secretary grew visibly frustrated as Jensen continued to press her on the topic. She reiterated that Biden “believes it’s up to a woman to make those decisions, and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor” regarding abortion.

“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,” Psaki told Jensen. “The president believes their right should be respected.”

Jensen tried to fit in another question, but Psaki interjected: “I think we have to move on, you’ve had plenty of time today,” she said, calling on the next reporter in the briefing room.

The tense exchange came after the Supreme Court ruled at midnight Thursday that a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy should stand. The Texas statute went into effect on Wednesday and has become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. It makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and calls on private citizens to enforce the six-week ban, instead of state officials.

The White House this week heavily criticized the Texas law and the Supreme Court’s decision to keep it in place. Biden on Wednesday emphasized the constitutional right to abortion was established under Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling. On Thursday, the president called on the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services to explore any avenues the federal government could pursue to “ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe.”

Psaki has previously tussled with reporters, including Jensen, about abortion rights.

In an August 11 briefing, Jensen asked Psaki about Biden’s position on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funding to pay for an abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk.

Biden had supported the Hyde Amendment but in June 2019, the presidential candidate reversed his stance. “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right,” Biden said at the time.

Psaki told Jensen that “the president’s position on Hyde is well known, and we’ve stated many times publicly.”

Biden is only the second Catholic to serve as US president. He is known to keep a rosary in his pocket and regularly touts his faith. Psaki has come to the president’s defense over questions about his faith, saying in a January briefing: “I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly.”