MSNBC’s Alex Witt Asks: ‘What’s It Going To Take To Get Abortion Rights Back On Track?’

Well, there goes any chance that MSNBC might have resolved to drop the phony "war on women" meme in the new year. On the January 3 NewsNation fill-in host Alex Witt interviewed Kate Pickert to push for greater abortion access across the nation, discussing her cover story for the January 14 print edition of TIME magazine, which is pegged to the forthcoming 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. "40 years ago, abortion-rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v. Wade," blares the cover headline, adding, "They've been losing ever since."

The segment itself was more of an advocacy spot than an actual interview with Witt acting as cheerleader for the abortion rights movement.  Witt introduced the segment calling the article a “fascinating, comprehensive great article”, that “really gets right to the heart of the issue.”  Ms. Witt followed her fawning over the article by asking Pickert, “What do you think it’s going to take to get abortion rights back on track and not deny it from those who need it?”  [See video after jump.  MP3 audio here.]

Rather than asking tough questions, Witt observed that older pro-choice leaders need to do a better job convincing younger women of their position, pondering with Pickert what they can do to improve their PR:

More power and even more of a different approach because different language is being offered up by younger pro-choice advocates because they often don't even identify themselves or mention being pro-choice they say they are behind the cause of reproductive justice, it’s a far more encompassing concept, right?

While Time's website today features an opinion piece by pro-life feminist Emily Buchanan of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, sadly MSNBC failed to book Buchanan for her perspective.

Once again, MSNBC has chosen to be an activist network by having a one-sided discussion promoting the abortion industry without offering one guest to appear from the pro-life movement.

 

See relevant transcript below. 


MSNBC

News Nation

January 3, 2013

2:52 p.m. EST

ALEX WITT: This month will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v Wade decision, which legalized abortion in this country. But this week's Time Magazine cover story argues that activists have been losing that fight over abortion rights ever since that historic ruling. Time Magazine staff writer Kate Pickert wrote that story. Kate joins us now. And Kate with a welcome to you.  What a fascinating comprehensive great article. And I want to read a quote from your piece that I think gets right to the heart of the issue.  And here is what you wrote, "getting an abortion in America is in some places harder today than at any point since it became a constitutionally protected right 40 years ago this month. At the state level, abortion rights activists are unequivocally losing." And you write about this abortion clinic in North Dakota. Talk about that and how that really is at the epicenter and abortion clinics like that, as to where the problems lie. 

KATE PICKERT: Well yes, I traveled to Fargo, North Dakota, and spent some time at the Red River Women's Clinic there, which is the only abortion clinic in the state. North Dakota is one of four states across the country that now has just a single abortion clinic in operation.  And nationwide there are about 40% fewer abortion providers than there were in the early 1980s.  So there are fewer places for women to get abortions. An abortion is something that 30% of women will experience by the time they reach age 45. So it’s something that affects a lot women. Across the country, states have been passing, including North Dakota and elsewhere, laws that limit clinics' ability to operate which is why there are fewer.

WITT: Yeah, interesting some of them about having to widen halls to five feet wide, which in essence shuts down a lot of these clinics and they don’t have the money to support it, I mean it’s fascinating the things they are throwing in there. But you also write about a generational divide within the reproductive rights movement, you point out that the leadership is pretty much compromised women who were in their 20s at the time of Roe v Wade 40 years ago but now these leaders are now in their 60s and their 70s and there’s friction with the younger generation of activists.

PICKERT: Yeah that’s right.  Young feminist activists who are in their 20s and 30s now think about activism in a different way, you know the internet is a very big part of what they do.  Twitter is a big part of what they do and they’re really sort of hankering for more power in the pro-choice movement and they say that some of the older leaders of the legacy feminist organizations are kind of reluctant to give up power.

WITT: More power and even more of a different approach because different language is being offered up by younger pro-choice advocates because they often don't even identify themselves or mention being pro-choice they say they are behind the cause of reproductive justice, it’s a far more encompassing concept, right?

PICKERT: Yeah and I think they believe it resonates better with younger people than the pro-choice label. Reproductive justice refers to lots of other issues beyond abortion, it includes contraception, health care coverage, insurance coverage, childcare, economic opportunity. And so they talk in a more holistic frame about issues that matter to women. And I think that they feel that you know that’s the future.

WITT: Kate, what do you think it’s going to take to get abortion rights back on track and not deny it from those who need it?

PICKERT: You know I think it’s a difficult landscape for the pro-choice movement.  And I think you know the challenge they have is that they’re sort of defending the status quo. Abortion of course is legal in this country, it’s a protected -- constitutionally protected federal right and, you know, trying to defend something that's already in existence is more difficult than trying to change something.

WITT: Okay. Time Magazine's Kate Pickert, cover story there this week, great article. Thanks so much.

PICKERT: Thanks.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.