On Sunday’s Meet the Press, during an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NBC host Tom Brokaw brought up Barack Obama’s recent declaration at the Saddleback Forum that the question of "at what point does a baby get human rights," is "above my pay grade." After playing the relevant clip of Obama from the August 16 candidates forum, Brokaw asked of Pelosi: "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?"
After Pelosi, labeling herself as an "ardent Catholic," avoided giving a straight answer, and contended that "over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition," Brokaw jumped in: "The Catholic Church, at the moment, feel very strongly it begins at the point of conception."
Ed Morrissey writes about Pelosi's response to Brokaw's question, and includes video here.
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, August 24, Meet the Press on NBC:
TOM BROKAW: There was a very well publicized and very effective interview by Pastor Rick Warren to Saddleback Church in California, among the two candidates recently. And, on the right, especially, a 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 taqka a look at it and respond to it.
PASTOR RICK WARREN, SADDLEBACK CHURCH, DATED AUGUST 16, 2008: At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?
BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that, whether you’re looking at it from the theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
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?
NANCY 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 St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have impact on a 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 distinct, this isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors 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 a say, Catholic Church, for centuries, has been discussing this, and there are those who have decided-
BROKAW JUMPS IN: The Catholic Church, at the moment, feel very strongly it begins at the point of conception.
PELOSI: I understand that. I understand that. And this is like in 50 years or something like that. Again, over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy, but it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and 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 be easier to support family planning 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.