Maddow's Dubious Claim About Personhood Law Banning The Pill Undercut - By Her

Simple rule of thumb for Rachel Maddow -- the more emphatic she is, the more likely she is to be wrong.

Latest example -- Maddow's strenuous, Elizabeth Warrenesque arm-waving claim that a proposed amendment to the Mississippi constitution to define life starting at conception would outlaw the Pill. (video after page break)

On her MSNBC show last night, Maddow talked about Mitt Romney saying he supports the proposed amendment in Mississippi, a ballot question known as Amendment 26. Here's Maddow's skewed interpretation of Romney's remarks --

MADDOW: Mr. Romney went on Mike Huckabee's Fox News' TV show over the weekend and appeared to endorse a policy that Mike Huckabee has been lending his own star power to lately. It's a state-based constitutional amendment defining personhood as beginning at conception. That's a definition that is clearly aimed at banning all abortion outright. It is also something that could ban many common forms of birth control.

Maddow then showed a clip of the conversation between Romney and Huckabee --

HUCKABEE: Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

HUCKABEE: So, I mean, not that it would have had an easy sailing through the Massachusetts legislature.

ROMNEY: Prob-, prob-, prob- (Romney stumbling, crosstalk) I mean, yeah, probably yeah.

HUCKABEE: I mean, I have to concede, Mass- ...

Followed by Maddow mimicking Romney stumbling in response to Huckabee's question, and Maddow saying this --

MADDOW: .... I probably, I'm not sure what the awkward fussing at the end was all about, but now somebody has to ask Mitt Romney if he really does want to ban the birth control pill because that's what he just told Mike Huckabee!

Which isn't what Romney said (though a translator from the Romney campaign may be needed for a precise interpretation), it's Maddow saying Romney said something he didn't, and never the twain shall meet.

In fact, Maddow preceded her criticism of Romney with a rare example of journalistic restraint from her by pointing out that Amendment 26, if enacted, "could ban many forms of birth control." Which is true -- and its backers are making no attempt to hide.

The "Yes on 26" website shown by Maddow during the segment states that its supporters oppose "forms of the pill which act to prevent implantation of the newly formed human into the lining of the womb; forms of the IUD, which can act the same; and prostaglandin suppository drugs, which act to cause delivery of whatever size baby the uterus contains."

In the span of less than a minute, Maddow leaps from claiming Amendment 26 "could ban many forms of birth control" to claiming it would result in an outright ban on the Pill. Did something change in the blink of time between Maddow's two statements?

The Pill, one of the most commonly used contraceptives since it was introduced a half-century ago, would not be affected by the law because it prevents ovulation -- hence, conception cannot occur. It is largely for this reason that the Pill has gained widespread acceptance, even among those opposed to abortion, since it avoids the immorality of killing newly formed human life.

The "Yes on 26" site further states that "the Personhood Amendment will not ban the use of hormonal contraceptives, including most forms of the 'Pill.' However, drugs such as RU486 which allow a baby to be conceived and then expelled will be banned. [Note: The Yes on 26 campaign does not advocate the use of contraceptives but unequivocally states that Personhood will not outlaw the 'Pill.' "

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts