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Nancy Pelosi’s dubious “smackdown”

by | Oct 6, 2015

Editor’s note. This appeared on the blog of Secular Prolife and is reprinted with permission.

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi

Today’s guest post is by JoAnna Wahlund.

Maybe someone out there can explain this, because I am really confused.

Nancy Pelosi held a weekly briefing on October 1. You can watch the video here.

At one point, a CNS news reporter asked, “In reference to funding for Planned Parenthood: Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?”

Pelosi responded: “Why don’t you take your ideological questions—I don’t, I don’t have—”

Point of Confusion #1: “Ideological” is defined as “an adjective that describes political, cultural, or religious beliefs.” The question “Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?” isn’t a question about political, cultural, or religious beliefs. It’s a question regarding scientific fact. So why does Pelosi call it an ideological question?

In fact, the reporter follows up with yet another scientific (not ideological) question. “If it’s not a human being, what species is it?”

Pelosi’s baffling response is decidedly unscientific and rife with logical fallacies:

Pelosi: “No, listen, I want to say something to you. I don’t know who you are…”

Point of Confusion #2: So what? How does his identity change his questions or make them less relevant?

Pelosi: “…I am a devout practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old.”

Point of Confusion #3: How is that relevant? What does this have to do with the scientific question as to whether or not an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver is a human being?

Pelosi: “I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

Point of Confusion #4: How does her response prove that she “knows more about this subject” than the reporter? He asked her a scientific question and she responded with, “I’m a Catholic with five kids, so I know more about this than you.” Um, what? That makes no sense. As Secular Pro-Life’s very existence proves, you don’t have to be a Catholic, Christian, or theist to know that abortion is wrong (and sadly, some Catholics, like Pelosi, don’t know or won’t acknowledge that abortion is wrong). Abortion is first and foremost a human rights issue, not solely a religious issue.

Moreover, I happen to be a “devout practicing Catholic” myself. Unlike Pelosi, I actually believe and practice what the Catholic Church teaches regarding abortion, a teaching of which Pelosi, who claims to be both “devout” and “practicing,” is ignorant.

In fact, I’m a mother of nine children (five born, one unborn, three lost to miscarriage). My oldest is 10, and will be 11 when his/her youngest sibling will arrive. By Pelosi’s logic, I actually know more than she does about this subject. In fact, I can answer the reporter’s question with actual science:

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and egg is a human being. — [emphatically pro-choice] Dr. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 2008), 85-86.

Was that so hard?

Pelosi: “And I do not intend to respond to your questions, which have no basis in what public policy is that we do here.”

Point of Confusion #5: So Pelosi believes that matters of science have no basis in public policy? If so, why does the government have an Office of Science and Technology Policy? Would she say that science has no basis in public policy regarding climate change? Is she learning the “science” of abortion from Bill Nye instead of actual scientists?

Point of Confusion #6: Let’s take a look a sampling of headlines following this briefing:

Nancy Pelosi Crushes Reporter’s ‘Ideological’ Parenthood Question: I Know More Than You – Mediaite

Nancy Pelosi smacks down a conservative reporter’s anti-abortion talking points –

WATCH Nancy Pelosi Put A Right-Wing Reporter In His Place For Pestering Her With Abortion Questions –

Pelosi shuts down reporter’s ‘ideological’ question on abortion –

Let me get this straight: Nancy Pelosi responded to a reporter’s scientific questions by calling them “ideological,” claimed she knows more than he does by virtue of being Catholic with five kids, and stating that science has no basis in public policy… and that’s a “smackdown”? She “crushed” and “shut down” the reporter with that response?

Were we watching the same briefing?

I saw a dishonest politician engage in egregious non sequiturs and numerous logical fallacies to avoid answering a question that she knows she can’t answer without also acknowledging that she supports and champions the deliberate killing of innocent human beings (after all, abortion is her “sacred ground”).

Last time I checked, that wasn’t a “smackdown.” That was a colossal embarrassment and a shocking display of ignorance. I know this not because I’m a Catholic mother of many children, but because I’m a rational human being with rudimentary skills of logic and reason.

Maybe I should use Pelosi’s criteria and try to find a Catholic mom with even more children to explain this lack of logic to me. Oh wait, this one opposes abortion. So does this one. Hmmm. In fact, all Catholic moms of my acquaintance with 5+ kids are pro-life. According to the Gospel of Nancy, we all know more than she does about abortion. Perhaps she’d like to fly us down to Capitol Hill so we can explain things to her?

Categories: Abortion Politics