Fact check: Headline misrepresents Buttigieg’s remarks on the Bible and abortion

The headline of an article circulating on social media says that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and a former Democratic presidential candidate claimed that the “Bible says babies can be aborted ‘up to the first breath’”. The headline is misleading, the article itself references an interview in which Buttigieg said “there’s so many parts of the Bible that associate the beginning of life with breath”, while discussing how certain parts of the Bible can lead to “different conclusions” about certain topics.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg endorses former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at Chicken Scratch in Dallas, Texas, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

In his response, Buttgieg said that when reading the Bible he had to sort out “what connects you with the God versus what simply tells you about the morals of the times when it was written, right?” and argued that from his perspective “that’s not so much cherry-picking as just being serious, because of course there’s so many things in Scripture that are inconsistent internally, and you’ve got to decide what sense to make of it”.

The article is visible here (archived version ) .

While the article was originally published on Nov. 21, 2019, the link was recently reposted on Nov. 21, 2020, by several public groups and pages, according to Crowdtangle, a social media content discovery and monitoring tool.

Some recent posts include the publisher of the article, LifeNews ( here ) and other pages that appear to be from the same publisher here , here , here (see About section and profile picture ).

The article references an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine visible here , published on Nov. 20, 2019, in which Buttigieg talked about his Christian faith, something he often mentioned during his presidential campaign ( here , here ).

The comment in question is reportedly Buttigieg’s response when asked about the criticism sometimes levelled towards progressive Christians over “picking and choosing the issues” and disregarding certain interpretations of the Bible.

Buttigieg’s remarks on the issue of abortion read: “Now, I actually think that if you look at an issue like choice, there’s so many parts of the Bible that associate the beginning of life with breath that there’s plenty of scriptural basis to reach different conclusions about that. But only if you believe that the government must legislate these metaphysical questions does the debate about choice have to be about the government deciding where life begins.

“I think the rest of us believe that, no matter what you think on where life begins, the question is who gets to decide how to handle this situation. And that’s how we accommodate a bunch of differently formed consciences at once. It’s the framework of Roe v. Wade, and that’s why there’s a strong American majority for choice, even while there’s very different opinions about deep questions around life.

While the body of the article does include the context and quotes him correctly, the allegation stated in the headline that he “claims Bible says babies can be ‘aborted up to their first breath’” is misleading.

It is not the first time that Buttigieg reference to how some parts of the Bible say “life begins with breath” has been misleadingly reported. On Feb. 19,2020 Politifact debunked a similar false headline from the same site here .


Misleading headline. In the interview referenced, Pete Buttigieg did not claim “Bible says babies can be aborted ‘up to their first breath’”. He said it was possible to reach different conclusions from the Bible about where life begins.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .