Bill O'Reilly: Not a good obstetric-health authority

Fox anchor flubs some serious pregnancy information.

Published October 17, 2006 11:26PM (EDT)

Thanks to Media Matters and several eagle-eyed and eagle-eared Broadsheet readers for passing this gem along.

Last week on his syndicated radio show, "The Radio Factor With Bill O'Reilly," Fox anchor and loofah-wielder Bill O'Reilly decided to address the issue of abortion in his "Culture War" segment. He briefly touched on Ms. magazine's "We Had Abortions" campaign, before explaining that pretty soon, abortion may not be legal thanks to cases being argued in South Dakota and other states. Legal abortion "may not be the law of the land, unfettered, much longer because the Supreme Court's hearing a whole bunch of stuff," said O'Reilly. "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."

The host then went on to assert that after 26 weeks "there's life, whether you cede it or not, it's true -- scientifically speaking, of course."

Of course. Science could only be behind his follow-up claim that 45 percent of Americans favor outlawing abortion "unless the mother's going to die, or catastrophic health consequences, which again, is never the case. Never."

Well, actually, Bill O'Reilly, you irresponsible moron, that's news to me. And try telling it to all the women who have experienced, or died from, life-threatening conditions like ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus and can rupture fallopian tubes, causing fatal bleeding. That's the No. 1 cause of pregnancy-related death in the first trimester. But don't forget preeclampsia, a high-blood-pressure syndrome that is extremely common and treatable but that in rare, severe circumstances can lead to life-threatening conditions. The Mayo Clinic reports that preeclampsia "and other high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death." None of these conditions "can always" be solved by a C-section.

So another moral for the day: Don't trust obstetric information -- or let's be honest here, any information -- when it comes from Bill O'Reilly.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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