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Press secretary Jen Psaki gives masterclass in shutting down hysterical questions about trans healthcare

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

White House press secretary Jen Psaki masterfully shut down a right-wing reporter who pressed her on trans healthcare.

During a White House press briefing on Tuesday (2 March), Owen Jensen, a reporter for the EWTN Global Catholic Network, asked about the Equality Act, religious freedom and gender affirmation surgeries.

The Equality Act would protect LGBT+ people, women and the disabled from disabled people from discrimination. But the landmark civil rights legislation is opposed by conservative groups who claim the bill would limit “religious freedom”.

Jensen asked Psaki: “There’s pro-life groups, right now, who are very concerned about the phrase ‘pregnancy discrimination’ in the Equality Act — you’re familiar with that, I’m sure — that it would force doctors perform abortions even if it violates their conscience.

“There are also concerns the bill would force doctors to perform gender transition surgeries and sterilisations, again, even if this violates their conscience.

“What does the president — president Biden — say about those concerns?”

The section Jensen refers to prevents “women affected by pregnancy” from being discriminated against by employers. It would also require medical professionals to provide services equally. But it does not require doctors to provide services that they do not normally provide or don’t have training in.

Psaki responded that Biden has been a “longtime supporter” of Roe v Wade – a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in which protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

“It has been his consistent belief that should be law, and he will fight to continue to protect that as being law,” Psaki said.

Jensen then asked: “So conscience concerns is not a concern of his?”

But Psaki shut Jensen down saying she was “just going to state what” Biden’s policies are. She coolly asked: “Did you have another question?”

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Jensen then tried to ask if the president will keep in the Conscious and Religious Freedom Division at the Department of Health and Human Services, which was put in place under Donald Trump. He asked if it would remain open to “keep it in place to receive conscious complaints from those doctors”.

“You’ll have to talk to a future secretary Becerra, once he is confirmed,” Psaki said.

Xavier Becerra was elected by Biden to become the health and human services secretary. The Senate finance committee deadlocked 14-14 on Wednesday (3 March) along party lines on Becerra’s nomination.

Becerra, who was the attorney general of California, is the first Biden pick not to be quickly confirmed into their future role.

Biden has continuously expressed his support for the trans community.

After the House passed the Equality Act, Biden tweeted: “Transgender rights are human rights – and the House made that clear today by passing the Equality Act.”

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