House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today bickered with a conservative reporter who asked her to explain the moral difference between live-birth murder and abortions executed during the final four months of pregnancy.
Pelosi began her news conference today by criticizing a Republican-sponsored bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest. The bill, H.R. 1797, the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," passed out of the House Judiciary committee Wednesday behind GOP support.
Today, Pelosi rejected the committee's display as "really just another day in the life of the Republican Congress."
"They passed legislation that was disrespectful to the rights, health and safety of American women," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "All the people who voted for the bill were men. Disrespectful."
When she opened the newser up to questions, John McCormack, a reporter with the Weekly Standard, challenged Pelosi to explain the moral difference between murdering a live-born infant, exemplified by the horrors of a recently convicted Philadelphia doctor, Kermit Gosnell, and fetuses aborted in the womb during the final four months of pregnancy.
"O.K. You're probably enjoying that question a lot. I can see you savoring it," Pelosi said, in scathing tones, prompting a chorus of laughter from some members of the Congressional press corps. "Let me just tell you this. What was done in Philadelphia was reprehensible, and everybody condemned it. For them to decide to disrespect a judgment a woman makes about her reproductive health is reprehensible."
Pelosi then tried to move on, asking reporters for the "next question."
But McCormack jumped in and continued pressing Pelosi to explain the moral difference "between 26 weeks, selective abortion, and the killing of that same infant born alive."
"This is not the issue. They are saying that there's no abortion. They want to make it a federal law that there'll be no abortion in our country," Pelosi retorted. "You're taking the extreme case. You're taking the extreme case. And what I'm saying to you is what happened in Philadelphia was reprehensible."
Gosnell was accused of performing late-term abortions on four babies who were born alive, but he then allegedly killed. He was convicted last month on three counts of first-degree murder.
Still, the reporter did not relent and repeatedly asked Pelosi to address the heart of his question, but she was having none of it.
"I'm not going to have this conversation with you because you obviously have an agenda," she said. "You're not interested in having an answer, but I've responded to you to the extent that I'm going to respond to you."
"I want to tell you something. As a mother of five children - my oldest child is six years old the day I brought my fifth child home from the hospital - as a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," she continued. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics and that's where you're taking it, and I'm not going there."
McCormack then said she still had not addressed his question, but Pelosi ignored him and moved on to another reporter.
Later, a reporter from The New York Times attempted to ask Pelosi a separate question on abortion, but as soon as she learned the direction of his question, she cut him off.
"I'm not going to," she said, refusing to further discuss abortion. "What else? What do you got?"
On Wednesday, Rep. Trent Franks, the author of the controversial legislation, caused a stir when he said that "pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the sixth month are very rare." Franks later complained that his comment was taken out of context and clarified that "the issue that I was responding to was how many pregnancies from rape result in a decision to abort the sixth month or after."
After Pelosi's news conference, House Speaker John Boehner took to the podium and was asked whether he believes the House should spend so much time debating abortion law since it stands no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law by a Democratic president.
"Listen, jobs continues to be our number one concern, and while we continue to be focused on this, there are other important issues that we have to deal with," Boehner, R-Ohio, explained. "After the Kermit Gosnell case and the publicity that it received, I think the [Franks] legislation is appropriate, and I hope those who have voted against such proposals in the past will change their minds."
This post has been updated to specify the legislation does not include exceptions for rape or incest. An exception for the health of the mother is included in the bill, however.