Kyra Phillips Conducts Softball Interview of Woman Who Tweeted Abortion

[Update, 10:48 pm Eastern: Audio & video clips added.]

On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Kyra Phillips sympathetically interviewed a woman who unapologetically Tweeted her chemically-induced abortion as it happened. Instead of offering the pro-life viewpoint, Phillips lamented how her guest received "e-mails and the responses [which] were so brutal." The anchor later admitted that she "didn't want to get into a debate about abortion" [audio clip available here].

During the interview, Phillips tossed softball questions at blogger Angie Jackson, who is known on Twitter as "antitheistangie," or "Angie the Anti-Theist" on her blog (Phillips didn't mention her guest's political or philosophical outlook during the entire segment). After playing a clip of Jackson from YouTube.com, Phillips first asked, "So, Angie- you know, did it take a while to come to a comfort zone, that you wanted to do this? Tell me how you eventually decided, this is how I'm going to do it and I'm going to let everybody see it happen."

Once the "anti-theist" blogger gave her initial answer, Phillips played another clip of her guest from YouTube, where the blogger flatly admitted, "Yes, it had the potential for that embryo to become a fetus, to become a person....But it was more likely to kill me, and you're not going to shame me....I do not feel sorry that I saved my life. I do not feel sorry that I stayed here for myself, for my boyfriend, for my kid that I've already got."

Later, the anchor brought up the "brutal" responses Jackson received in response to her live-Tweeting her abortion, and instead of reading one of them, or even offering the pro-life view, she just vaguely described the intensity of the posts and openly sympathized with her guest:

PHILLIPS: As you well know, we've been looking at all the various comments, both negative and positive to what you did, and these are really harsh. But people wrote in and said- they called you all kinds of names, from being a whore to someone who just couldn't keep her legs closed. They called you a baby killer. I mean, it's even hard for me to say these things because some of those- the e-mails and the responses were so brutal. How did that make you feel? Did that bother you? Did it make you think twice about what you did?

After two final softball questions, the anchor brought on CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and flatly admitted that she didn't want to bring in any opposing viewpoint into the previous segment: "...[A]s you can imagine, we received a lot of response about even doing this story because abortion is such a controversial issue, and we really didn't want to get into a debate about abortion, but rather, look at what people are doing now, using social networking, and it brought about a lot of questions about RU-486 that we don't hear a lot about."

The full transcript of Kyra Phillips interview of Angie Jackson, which began one minute into the 10 am Eastern hour of Monday's Newsroom program:

Kyra Phillips, CNN Anchor; & Angie Jackson, 'Angie the Anti-Theist' Blog | NewsBusters.orgPHILLIPS: Here's something you don't see or hear every day- an abortion play-by-play. Not exactly something to Tweet about, is it? But Angie Jackson did. She actually put it on YouTube, too. Take a listen to the very public abortion that's gotten more than 125,000 YouTube hits.

ANGIE JACKSON (from YouTube.com): Yeah, I'm having an abortion right now. It's not that bad. It's not that scary. It's basically like a miscarriage. I'm live-Tweeting my abortion on Twitter, not for some publicity stunt or attention or to justify this to myself. I am at peace with my decision.

PHILLIPS: So what motivated Angie to end her pregnancy? She says she used an IUD for birth control, but it failed. She also said that her pregnancy nearly killed her, and her doctor told her not to have another child. So the 27-year-old Florida woman took the abortion pill RU-486, putting this private information out there for everyone to see, and it's gotten a lot of reaction- positive, negative, even threatening. So why Tweet about it?

Angie joins me now live from Tampa. So, Angie- you know, did it take a while to come to a comfort zone, that you wanted to do this? Tell me how you eventually decided, this is how I'm going to do it and I'm going to let everybody see it happen.

JACKSON: Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm a blogger, and I'm actually writing a book, 'Birth and Death: Life of a Newborn Cult' about my experiences, and I talk about a lot of controversial or hot button issues every day. So for me, this wasn't even that different. This was just an extension of continuing to talk openly about taboo subjects in a way that, just by sharing my own story, allows other people to share theirs or to talk about how they feel.

PHILLIPS: Let's go ahead and look at another chunk of that live-Tweeting that you did as you were having an abortion.

JACKSON (from YouTube.com): Yes, it had the potential for that embryo to become a fetus, to become a person- hypothetically. It could have been a person that was made up of my boyfriend and my DNA. But it was more likely to kill me, and you're not going to shame me. You're not going to silence me. I do not feel sorry that I saved my life. I do not feel sorry that I stayed here for myself, for my boyfriend, for my kid that I've already got.

PHILLIPS: What did your doctor say was going to happen to you if you tried to carry that child?

JACKSON: Well, when I had my son, who is four now, I had a tremendously difficult pregnancy and 98-hour back labor, and my doctors advised me to avoid becoming pregnant again, which is why I had an IUD inserted in my cervix. However, there is no 100-percent effective form of contraception, not even tubal ligation or vasectomy. And so, I had prepared that if I became pregnant anyway, I would have an abortion because the risks were too high for me to continue a pregnancy.

PHILLIPS: As you well know, we've been looking at all the various comments, both negative and positive to what you did, and these are really harsh. But people wrote in and said- they called you all kinds of names, from being a whore to someone who just couldn't keep her legs closed. They called you a baby killer. I mean, it's even hard for me to say these things because some of those- the e-mails and the responses were so brutal. How did that make you feel? Did that bother you? Did it make you think twice about what you did?

JACKSON: Actually, if anything, it showed me more how important it is to talk about taboo things or to talk about personal things. One- about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy before the age of 45, and one in three American women will have an abortion sometime during their childbearing years. And yet, this is something we almost never talk about, or at least we talk about the political aspects, but not the individual women. Some of the heat that I've gotten has certainly showed me what the cost of that silence is, is that when a woman does want to discuss it, she's- the reaction is quite strong.

PHILLIPS: What would you do if you got pregnant again?

JACKSON: Of course, the goal is to avoid that, but- I mean, my health conditions have not changed, and if I was pregnant again, I would, of course, have another abortion.

PHILLIPS: Final question: what made you decide to do the RU- 486? Is that something you discussed with your boyfriend? How quick did you make that decision? Why that route?

JACKSON: Sure. I investigated - I looked at a couple of websites, one of which is imnotsorry.net, which includes a lot of personal abortion stories, and I read how different women had felt. I thought that the RU-486 abortion-by-pill at home would be a more natural and comfortable experience. I was also too early in my pregnancy to be eligible for a surgical abortion. I was only four weeks. And so, RU- 486 was the medically-recommended choice.

PHILLIPS: Angie Jackson, very interesting. It definitely caught our attention. I actually didn't believe that you actually did it until I saw it, and it's pretty fascinating, the reasons that you have for doing it. And we're going to follow the video and the continued responses that you've gotten. You've also received a lot of support for what you did, as well, to sort of demystify what it's like to have an abortion- interesting. Angie Jackson, thanks for your time.

JACKSON: Thank you so much for having me.

PHILLIPS: All right. We heard Angie's story. Let's talk more about her method of abortion, this RU-486 pill.

And joining us to talk more about that, also about getting access to it, the safety of it, CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And, as you can imagine, we received a lot of response about even doing this story because abortion is such a controversial issue, and we really didn't want to get into a debate about abortion, but rather, look at what people are doing now, using social networking, and it brought about a lot of questions about RU-486 that we don't hear a lot about.

ELIZABETH COHEN: Right. I think there's some confusion. People might think it's the morning after pill. But this is something very different. This is a way that you can have an abortion up until about nine weeks pregnant. That's according to Planned Parenthood. So up until nine weeks pregnant, you can use RU-486, which is also called Mifeprex. It's basically a way to have an abortion via a drug, rather than having a surgical abortion, and the way that it works is that a woman takes a pill that kills the pregnancy, and then three days later, she takes a pill that expels that pregnancy. So that's the way that it works.

PHILLIPS: What are the risks?

COHEN: There are some serious risks. About one in every 100,000 women who takes this has a fatal infection, a kind of infection called sepsis. So there are some serious risks, and that's why places like Planned Parenthood really spell it out on their website that you take these pills at home, as Angie Jackson just said , but you have to follow up, usually about 14 days after you've started the process. So this has to be medically supervised. You don't just go home and do it. You have to keep up with your doctor.

PHILLIPS: And a lot of people were confused that wrote in, thinking it was illegal, but it is legal-

COHEN: It's legal.

PHILLIPS: I mean, she went to Planned Parenthood and got it.

COHEN: Right, it's legal. Planned Parenthood offers it. There are probably other people that offer it, too, but it's legal in all 50 states.

PHILLIPS: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for the insight.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center