Biden has given conflicting statements over the years about when he believes life begins. At the 2012 vice presidential debate against Republican nominee Paul Ryan, he said “life begins at conception, that’s the Church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life,” though he said he refused to “impose” this view on others.
In September 2021, after Biden reaffirmed his support for the now-overturned pro-abortion rights Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, said he did not agree that human life begins at conception.
Shortly after those comments, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington took issue with the president’s statement. “The Catholic Church teaches, and has taught, that life — human life — begins at conception,” he said. “So, the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching.”
After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, Biden made a strong push to reassert legal protections for abortion at the federal level. On July 8, he issued a major executive order that aimed to protect access to abortion.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, said at the time that it is “deeply disturbing and tragic” that Biden would use presidential power “to promote and facilitate abortion in our country, seeking every possible avenue to deny unborn children their most basic human and civil right, the right to life.”
The pope himself soon addressed Biden’s stand, in response to a journalist’s question about Biden’s position and whether Catholic politicians who back abortion should be admitted to Holy Communion.
“Is it just to eliminate a human life?” Pope Francis said in an interview with Univision and Televisa broadcast July 12.
The pope said he left the matter of Biden’s defense of abortion to the president’s “conscience.”
“Let him talk to his pastor about that incoherence,” he said.
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