Speaker Pelosi On When Life Begins

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on Meet the Press this morning. Tom Brokaw asked her about Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum where Senator Obama was asked:
PASTOR RICK WARREN: At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is, is above my pay grade.

Pelosi:
REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins.

Video:

More of Speaker Pelosi's answer below.

MR. BROKAW: There was a very well publicized and very effective interview by Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in California of the two candidates recently. And on the right especially, response from Senator Obama to the question of when life begins has been getting a lot of attention. We want to just share with you how that went, and then you can take a look at it and, and respond to it for us.

(Videotape, August 16, 2008)

PASTOR RICK WARREN: At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is, is above my pay grade.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?" what would you tell him?

REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided...

MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...

REP. PELOSI: I understand that.

MR. BROKAW: ...begins at the point of conception.

REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That's why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must--it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take--you know, we have to handle this as respectfully--this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been--and I'm not saying Rick Warren did, because I don't think he did, but others will try to.

MR. BROKAW: Madame Speaker, thanks very much for being with us.

REP. PELOSI: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

MR. BROKAW: We hope you have a great week on the podium.

REP. PELOSI: It's going to be great. Democrats are going to come out stronger than ever.

MR. BROKAW: Do you have a big gavel?

REP. PELOSI: The big gavel's in the Capitol.

MR. BROKAW: All right.

I'll be right back with our political roundtable. That's Gwen Ifill, Jon Meacham and Chuck Todd from here in Denver.

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