Did Joe Biden say ‘Life begins at conception?’
The Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade is threatening to push back on abortion rights across the country with politicians including President Joe Biden condemning the move.
The president has in turn come under scrutiny for his criticisms, as his views on abortion rights have appeared to change throughout his political career.
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, some have dug into Biden’s past statements to cross-examine his position.
In a tweet sent on June 29, 2022, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan quoted Joe Biden as saying the president said “life begins at conception.” The tweet received more than 50,000 engagements.
Congressman Jordan’s tweet does not provide a full quote, misrepresenting what President Biden said at the time.
It appears to be from a 2012 vice presidential debate on ABC News between Biden and former vice presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan.
During the debate, the two guests were asked by host Martha Raddatz about their views on abortion.
When Biden was asked to respond, here’s what he said (Newsweek highlighted the quote that Congressman Jordan tweeted):
“My religion defines who I am and I have been a practicing Catholic all my life and this has particularly influenced my social doctrine.
“(Catholic social doctrine) speaks of taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, of people who need help.
“As far as, regarding abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as what we call the De Fide doctrine.
“Life begins at conception, it is the judgment of the church, I accept it in my personal life, but I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians, Muslims and Jews and I simply refuse to impose it on others, unlike to my friend here, the congressman.
“I don’t believe we have the right to tell others that, women, they can’t control their bodies. It’s a decision between them and their doctor in my opinion and the Supreme Court (and) I’m not going to interfere with that.”
Biden then criticized what he claimed were Ryan’s past views: “In the past he’s argued there’s rape and forced rape, he’s argued that if there’s rape or incest, it was always, it would be a crime to commit to having an abortion. I fundamentally disagree with my friend.
The full debate can be viewed here.
A spokesperson for Congressman Jordan defended the tweet, saying, “He (Biden) said ‘Life begins at conception.’ It was a direct quote.”
But the quote Jordan tweeted appears to imply that the president supports tougher abortion restrictions, despite his opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade. As the 2012 interview shows, Biden strongly warned that he did not believe his views should be imposed on others.
Without this context, Jordan’s tweet can be considered misleading.
Additionally, while Biden has previously said that “life begins at conception,” it appears his views have since evolved.
Asked in September 2021 about Texas lawmakers limiting abortions to the detection of a heartbeat, the president said, “I respect people who think that, who don’t support Roe v. Wade, I respect their opinions. “
“I respect those who believe that life begins at conception and all. I respect that. I disagree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.”
Although Biden was frequently arrested for his own apparent gaffes, he was also misquoted by others.
A recent example, verified by Newsweekwas in June 2022, when it was erroneously suggested that the president had “admitted” that Ukraine should cede territory in its dispute with Russia.
Social media posts also incorrectly claimed that in May 2022 he told a Paralympian “Don’t jump” during a ceremony at the White House when he was actually talking to a photographer.
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.
President Biden said during a 2012 vice presidential debate that “life begins at conception,” but the quote was taken from a broader context. He also said that his views should not be imposed on others and that an abortion was a decision between a patient and a doctor. This additional speech was not included in Congressman Jordan’s tweet. It also appears that Biden’s views have changed since 2012.
FACT-CHECKING BY Newsweek’s Fact-Checking Team