MSNBC's Matthews: Personhood Amendment in Miss. Would Deprive Women of 'Free Will'

MSNBC could easily change its acronym to MSNARAL given its concerted effort to attack a pro-life ballot measure that goes before Mississippi voters in 12 days.

Hardball host Chris Matthews joined MSNBC colleagues Thomas Roberts and Tamron Hall today in featuring guests on their respective programs who blasted Initiative 26, an amendment to the state constitution that would confer legal personhood on unborn babies if it's approved by Magnolia State voters this November 8.

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Unlike Roberts and Hall, Matthews did provide some balance by allowing Family Research Council's (FRC) Ken Blackwell to defend the ballot initiative on air. Even so, Matthews spent that interview attacking Blackwell from the left, accusing him of not doing enough to discourage unplanned pregnancies. What's more, Matthews concluded the subsequent softball interview with Newsweek's Michelle Goldberg by accusing pro-lifers of attempting to subvert a woman's "free will."


Although Matthews persistently attacks Republicans and conservatives for being "anti-science," the Hardball host seemed flustered at the notion that a fertilized human egg should be considered a human person.

Blackwell pointed out the moral dilemmas raised by in vitro fertilization practices that produce more embryos than are implanted, thereby producing human lives which are disposed of or indefinitely kept on ice.

Matthews then scolded Blackwell for attempting an "end-run" around the Constitution:

You know what I think? I've let you give your position, but I think this is what we call in football an end-run. I believe whatever else it is, it's an attempt to outlaw, ban the right of a woman to have an abortion, no matter what else you're talking about here, that will be the implication under the law. There's no other reason to go this direction. That's why you're doing it.

After Blackwell responded that "this is not an end-run, this is not a game, this is a pro-life movement," Matthews lectured Blackwell that if he "want[s] to stop the number of abortions in this country" he should "tell young men to stop having unprotected sex with women, discourage the act that leads to unwanted pregnancies, help people get birth control procedures available to them, reduce the incidents in which people choose to have an abortion in a free country.... and that's not going on."

"You know me, Chris, and you know that that's not the case," a visibly upset Blackwell retorted.

"It's all I hear though," Matthews sneered.

By contrast, Matthews's interview with Goldberg was a game of softball, with Matthews even suggesting the personhood amendment was an affront to a conservative, originalist reading of the country's Founding Fathers:

I just wonder how it squares with the writings of the Constitution [sic], and people who believe in original intent. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness relates to people who are alive and living and born.

Pursuit is a word, an active verb. I don't think you'd associate that with a fetus. And certainly liberty is a word you would apply to people who are alive and born. I don't know what it means to say an unborn person has liberty. I don't even know how the Constitution, you could possibly catch up in its original intent to what these people are talking about.

Closing the segment, Matthews reiterated his "end-run" complaint and dramatically complained that the personhood amendment was about "prevent[ing] people from having a free will at a certain point."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters