Bill O'Reilly's misinformation campaign

The Fox News host spews more inaccuracies, this time from the Boston Herald's Op-Ed page.

Jessica Arons
November 23, 2006 3:00AM (UTC)

Broadsheet editor's note: Last weekend, the Boston Herald featured an opinion piece by Bill O'Reilly, in which the Fox News host did more spouting off about Kansas abortion law. In the piece, O'Reilly repeated his allegation that Kansas physician George Tiller has been providing late-term, post-viability abortions to depressed women, calling him an "abortionist" and "Tiller the Baby Killer." He ended his tirade by lamenting, "It is hard to believe that babies have more protections in Paris and Amsterdam than they do in Kansas. But that's the truth."

We missed the piece when it ran on Sunday. Fortunately, Jessica Arons, the director of the Women's Health and Rights Program and a member of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, didn't miss it, and was kind enough to send us her reaction to O'Reilly's essay.


I just finished reading Bill O'Reilly's Op-Ed in last weekend's Boston Herald about abortions in Kansas and I have rarely been so offended in all my life. But not for the reasons O'Reilly hoped. His suggestion that a woman would have, or even want, a post-viability abortion because she is feeling a "bit blue" is both condescending and absurd, as if a pregnant woman just wakes up one day and says, "You know, I don't feel like having this baby after all." Women have abortions for all sorts of reasons that are important to them and their loved ones, but no woman has an abortion on a whim.

Moreover, his statements that Kansas allows doctors "to terminate a fetus at any time up until birth" for mental health reasons and that Kansas law is more liberal than France's are patently false. Kan. Stat. Ann. ' 65-6703(a) allows the abortion of a viable fetus only if two physicians (one of whom cannot be legally or financially affiliated with the attending physician) determine that the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman's life or that the pregnancy "will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman," which sounds quite similar to his description of the laws in France. The statute includes no mental health exception, vague or otherwise, and O'Reilly cites no actual law to back up his reckless assertions.

O'Reilly's reference to Dr. Tiller's patient records also is quite disconcerting. He does not share how he came by these records, though on his television show he mentioned he had an inside source about records that were recently obtained by Kansas attorney general and antiabortion crusader Phill Kline. That a member of the press -- especially one so well-known for inflammatory and biased rhetoric -- has had an opportunity to see private medical records that are the subject of a state investigation should be of great concern to all Americans who value doctor-patient confidentiality.

Finally, I resent O'Reilly's continued allusions to secularists who "worship at the altar of abortion." There are millions of sincere religious people throughout this country who -- because of their faith -- support legal abortion because they know that when abortion is illegal women needlessly suffer and die. In fact, before abortion was made legal in this country thousands of clergy participated in the Clergy Consultation Service, which gave women referrals for safe but illegal abortions.

It is one thing for O'Reilly to be given free rein by Fox News, but the Herald should be ashamed of itself for publishing this unsubstantiated tripe. His tactics unnecessarily inflame an already divisive debate and add nothing to it but mindless propaganda. And that's the truth.

Jessica Arons

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