Politics & Policy

Pelosi Dodges on Whether 15-Week Unborn Baby Is a ‘Human Being’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.,-Calif.) speaks during a briefing to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 10, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

During a press briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dodged a reporter’s question about whether a 15-week unborn baby constitutes a human being.

The reporter, citing a Mississippi bill waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court that bans abortions after 15 weeks, asked, “Is an unborn baby at 15 weeks a human being?”

“Let me just say that I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi responded. “I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

The reporter, Julia Johnson of, then repeated her question, which Pelosi ignored before selecting someone else to speak.

Johnson’s inquiry referred to a Supreme Court challenge to the Mississippi Gestational Age Act, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which was determined to be the cut off for fetal viability, but makes exceptions for a “medical emergency or in case of a severe fetal abnormality.”

Now with a conservative majority of 6-3 on the Supreme Court, the bench has signaled a willingness to reassess the legal doctrine informing its treatment of abortion. The Mississippi law was blocked by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that it conflicted with Roe v. Wade and subsequent precedent. The lower court concluded that “No state interest is constitutionally adequate to ban abortions before viability.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in its term beginning in October, and is likely to reach a decision by June 2022.

Nancy Pelosi’s statement also comes after congressional Democrats reintroduced a bill, titled the Women’s Health Protection Act, that would invalidate nearly all state-level restrictions on abortion, including existing laws limiting late-term abortions.

This federal action would nullify a slew of measures in Republican-dominated states such as laws mandating 24-hour waiting periods before an abortion is performed, informed-consent laws, prohibitions on sex-selective abortions, and many health and safety regulations.

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