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O'Reilly: A Woman's Life is Never Threatened by Pregnancy

By October 27, 2006

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Should laws against abortion contain provisions exempting cases where a woman's life is in danger? Even the most stringent anti-abortion laws in America have usually contained such an exemption. It's a way for anti-abortion zealots to pretend that they are moderately reasonable. Some, though, insist that no such provision is needed because pregnancy never poses any health risks to mothers.
O'REILLY: All right, "Culture War" segment. Here we go. Ms. Magazine is running "We had abortions" articles, and they're asking for American women to identify themselves and discuss their abortions that they had. ... Anyway, it makes me a little queasy. Since 1973, there have been 40 million legal abortions in the U.S.A., and it's the law of the land, and it may not be the law of the land, unfettered, much longer because the Supreme Court's hearing a whole bunch of stuff.

South Dakota, as you know, has voted to outlaw abortions unless the mother's life is in danger, which is never the case, because you can always have a C-section and do those kinds of things. And partial-birth abortion, obviously, is the big, big issue for what the United States Constitution says because you have to protect life, and after 26 weeks, there's life, whether you cede it or not, it's true -- scientifically speaking, of course.


O'REILLY: Forty-five percent of Americans, according to a new CNN poll -- 45 percent say all abortions should be outlawed unless the mother's going to die -- or catastrophic health consequences, which again, is never the case -- never. Fifty-one percent say, "No, abortion should stay the way it is. Roe v. Wade should stand." There's a plus or minus of 4.5 percent in the poll, so that's about even, all right. So, that's a lot of folks that say no to abortion in the U.S.A. -- a lot. You very rarely hear their point of view on -- in the media because the media's almost 100 percent pro-choice.

Source: Media Matters [emphasis theirs]

I've read a lot of foolish things, including quite a few said by O'Reilly himself, but I've never read anything so foolish and incorrect as this. There are many ways in which pregnancy can endanger a woman's life, creating situations where only abortion is left as a solution. This is easy to verify with any basic review of the medical facts. Either O'Reilly is aware of the truth but deliberately chose to lie, or O'Reilly deliberately chose not to do any research in order to learn if he was already correct in his assumptions.

Media Matters explains just how wrong O'Reilly is:

But, as the CDC noted, "Ectopic pregnancy, also known as a tubal pregnancy, is a potentially life-threatening form of pregnancy in which implantation of the fertilized egg occurs outside the uterus." The Mayo Clinic further noted that, despite O'Reilly's claim that "you can always have a C-section" if a complication occurs: "An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally. The developing embryo can't survive, and the growing placental tissue may destroy important maternal structures. Without treatment, life-threatening blood loss is possible."

Ectopic pregnancies are extremely risky and, according to the Mayo Clinic, even treatment can "lead to loss of reproductive organs or infertility." "Without treatment," the Mayo Clinic warns, "the stakes are even higher. A ruptured fallopian tube may lead to life-threatening bleeding." According to the CDC, "Ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester and account for 9% of all pregnancy-related deaths in this country."

Treatment for ectopic pregnancies mandates a termination of the pregnancy, most often by a form of therapeutic abortion. ...

Also, other pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, can be life-threatening to the pregnant woman. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Preeclampsia is a common problem during pregnancy, affecting up to one in seven pregnant women around the world," and "is defined by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy." The Mayo Clinic adds that although conditions of preeclampsia in the United States are "usually mild," if "left untreated, it can lead to serious, even deadly complications for you and your unborn baby." The clinic also reports that preeclampsia "and other high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death" in the world. Severe preeclampsia occurring early in the pregnancy is especially risky for a pregnant woman and her fetus.

O'Reilly could have learned any of this at any time if he had tried. If we assume that he isn't deliberately lying, then we have to conclude that he never cared enough about his position to spend any time trying to determine if it was correct. or, even worse, feared learning that he was wrong and so consciously avoided facts in order to preserve his comfortable ideology.

Unfortunately, O'Reilly is a very popular and respected media personality among conservatives, at least, Many people get all their information from O'Reilly and a few other talking heads who have been carefully selected to reinforce prejudice and not upset comfortable beliefs with messy facts. Here, O'Reilly is doing exactly what he is supposed to do as part of the conservative Christian media machine. This means, however, that many people are being misinformed about the medical dangers that can exist with pregnancy. O'Reilly's shows are a genuine drain on the knowledge of the American public.


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