MSNBC's Bashir: 'Misogynist' GOP Wants to 'Let Women Die'

On his Thursday program, MSNBC's Martin Bashir collaborated with pro-abortion Rep. Diana DeGette to bash pro-life conservatives as "misogynists" during a seven-and-a-half minute long segment. Bashir claimed that it's "hardly surprising" that the proposed Protect Life Act, which would protect the conscience rights of health care workers, "has earned the moniker the 'let women die act.'"

During the segment, the host repeatedly railed against Republicans for putting the bill up for a vote while "fourteen million Americans out of work." Bashir also adopted the pro-abortion lobby's own talking points from the very start [video clips from the segment below the jump]:

BASHIR: ...What are they focusing on in the Congress today?..yet another bill that takes dead aim at a woman's right to choose. Yes, with fourteen million Americans out of work, they are focused on the so-called Protect Life Act, which would make it illegal for federal funding to go to any health care plan that provides abortion services. And this would apply, even if the woman pays for a procedure herself. The bill would go as far as to protect the right of a hospital to deny a woman a termination under any circumstances (sic), even in life-threatening situations. Hardly surprising, then, that the provision has earned the moniker the 'let women die act' from its opponents.

After playing a clip from Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life conservative (who co-sponsored the bill, along with 12 pro-life women in the House), who stated that "according to every reputable poll, majorities of Americans want no complicity whatsoever in the destruction of human life," Bashir retorted that "in fact, the overwhelming majority of Americans support these procedures in some circumstances- 77%."

The MSNBC personality didn't give a source for his 77% figure, but two polls from 2011 actually support Rep. Smith's assertion. A Gallup poll from May found that "Americans are rather conservative in their stance on abortion, with 61% now preferring that abortion be legal in only a few circumstances or no circumstances. By contrast, 37% want abortion legal in all or most circumstances." Back in April, a CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 61% of Americans are opposed to "using public funds for abortions when the women cannot afford it," the same figure as in 2009.

Perhaps, Bashir is using a five-year-old poll commissioned by the pro-abortion organization NARAL, which spun a finding that "77 percent of Americans 'value freedom, privacy, and liberty – and the personal responsibility that comes with each'" into meaning that most Americans are in favor of legalized abortion.

Once the host turned to DeGette, the two did their best to paint pro-lifers in Congress as extremists. Bashir even played a clip from Rep. Jackie Speier, who used her past experience with abortion to defend federal funding of Planned Parenthood, to smear conservatives as being "misogynist":

BASHIR Can I play for you some remarks from your colleague Representative Jackie Speier, who previously made, as you know, an emotional admission, that she had to terminate a pregnancy. Today, she said this. Take a listen.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D), CALIFORNIA (from speech on House floor): What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are attempting to do is misogynist. It is absolutely misogynist.

BASHIR: Do you agree with her? Is this content- is the content of this bill misogynistic?

DEGETTE: You can hardly not agree with Congresswoman Speier when you see the assault on women's health that we've had this whole Congress. I mean, they've tried to cut women's right to full reproductive choice; they've tried to cut funding for birth control and for cervical and breast cancer screening; and on and on and on. So the whole anti-women's health agenda is a misogynist agenda....I mean, the problem is, they are catering to the far extreme right....they spend all their time frittering away, undermining the environmental laws, undermining a woman's right to choose, putting women's health at jeopardy....

BASHIR: So are you suggesting that, in purely cynical terms, what they're trying to do is have this- kind of, what you said was a war on women, in order to injure the President? Is that really who they want to injure? And they're using the issue of women's reproductive rights in order to undermine the possibility, or even prevent the possibility, of there being any kind of substantive progress through the Congress on this jobs bill that the President has already presented?

DEGETTE: I really have no idea why the Republicans in the House would bring up yet another bill that restricts a woman's right to choose here and now, because we've already passed many of those bills. It- I think what it does is it caters to the far right, but it doesn't do anything to help us put more money in for women's health, to help women get cervical and breast cancer screening, to help them get the full range of reproductive services that they need, or to create one single job in this country....

At the end of the segment, Bashir played up his guest's supposed job-creating record, even after a graphic acknowledged that Rep. DeGette is the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. When the Democrat cited how Americans "think jobs should be the number one agenda item of the U.S. Congress," the MSNBC host replied, "It certainly is for you."

This is the first time that Bashir brought on a pro-abortion notable to hype the "war on women" smear against conservatives. Back in June 2011, he tossed softballs at Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards, letting her spout her talking points in defense of her abortion-performing organization. Bashir later asked, "Is it an antagonistic approach to women's health issues?"

The full transcript of Martin Bashir's segment with Rep. Diana DeGette, which began 46 minutes into his 3 pm Eastern program on MSNBC:

[MSNBC Graphic: "War on Women"]

MARTIN BASHIR: What single issue do Americans care most about? What is it that every single poll highlights as the number one concern? So what are they focusing on in the Congress today? A bill- yet another bill- that takes dead aim at a woman's right to choose. Yes, with fourteen million Americans out of work, they are focused on the so-called Protect Life Act, which would make it illegal for federal funding to go to any health care plan that provides abortion services. And this would apply, even if the woman pays for a procedure herself. The bill would go as far as to protect the right of a hospital to deny a woman a termination under any circumstances (sic), even in life-threatening situations. Hardly surprising, then, that the provision has earned the moniker the 'let women die act' from its opponents. But Republicans insist this is what the majority of Americans want.

[MSNBC Graphic: "War On Women: Critics Call Bill 'Women Will Die' Act"]

REP. CHRISTOPHER SMITH, (R), NEW JERSEY (from speech on House floor): Pro-life members of Congress- and according to every reputable poll, majorities of Americans want no complicity whatsoever in the destruction of human life.

BASHIR: But Mr. Smith, in fact, the overwhelming majority of Americans support these procedures in some circumstances- 77%.

The bill is expected to pass the House this evening, but has no chance in the Senate.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a Democrat from the state of Colorado, who spoke against the bill on the House of the floor (sic) earlier today. Good afternoon.

[MSNBC Graphic: "Supporters: Bill Bans All Taxpayer Money For Abortion"]

REP. DIANA DEGETTE, (D), COLORADO: Hi, Martin.

BASHIR: Thank you for joining us. When you see the approval rating for Congress hitting an all-time low, and with the economy in such a state of turmoil, and the House of Representatives spending precious time debating this kind of bill, do you understand why so many Americans hate representatives and hate the House?

DEGETTE: I do, Martin, because this bill is a bill- we've passed it several times in the House. It always dies in the Senate. We want to know, with 20 days left in the legislative session, why don't you talk about jobs? I mean, millions of Americans are without jobs. And you know what they say is, they're stopping federal funding from paying for abortions. But, in fact, under the Hyde Amendment- I don't like the Hyde Amendment- but it's the law of the land. Under the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds goes to pay for abortions anyway. So this bill goes far, far beyond that. This does a couple of really disturbing things. The first thing it says is that women who buy insurance policies in the insurance exchanges that are going to be set up, with their own private money, can't buy a policy that covers full reproductive services. The other thing it says, which is really disturbing, is emergency room providers now don't have to pay- don't have to help a woman who is in need of medical services who could die. And that is really disturbing, and it's actually quite extreme.

[MSNBC Graphic: "Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) Introduced The New Bill; Bill Makes Exceptions For Rape, Incest, Mother's Health; Critics: Fed. Funds Already Can't Be Used For Abortions]

BASHIR: We are watching all of the testimony, all of the speeches and so on, on the floor. But am I right to say that there's been not a single comment about jobs today?

DEGETTE: Except from the Democrats. The Democrats keep saying, why- with 20 legislative days left, why don't we pass a jobs bill? Why (laughs)-

BASHIR Okay. Can I play for you some remarks from your colleague-

DEGETTE: Certainly-

BASHIR: Representative Jackie Speier, who previously made, as you know, an emotional admission, that she had to terminate a pregnancy-

DEGETTE: Yes-

BASHIR: Today, she said this. Take a listen.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D), CALIFORNIA (from speech on House floor): What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are attempting to do is misogynist. It is absolutely misogynist.

BASHIR: Do you agree with her? Is this content- is the content of this bill misogynistic?

DEGETTE: You can hardly not agree with Congresswoman Speier when you see the assault on women's health that we've had this whole Congress. I mean, they've tried to cut women's right to full reproductive choice; they've tried to cut funding for birth control and for cervical and breast cancer screening; and on and on and on. So the whole anti-women's health agenda is a misogynist agenda.

[MSNBC Graphic: "Rep. Diane DeGette, (D) Colorado: Co-Chair, Cong. Pro-Choice Caucus; Chief Deputy Whip; Member, House Oversight Subcmte."]

BASHIR: But why, when the nation, as we've already discussed, has 14 million Americans out of work- why, when poverty levels are at their highest since the 1950s-

DEGETTE: Right-

BASHIR: The early 1950s- you know all these statistics-

DEGETTE: Yes-

BASHIR: They know all these statistics. And yet, they spend this time on this specific issue. Which individual is going to get a job out of this?

DEGETTE: Yeah-

BASHIR: Who's going to actually get any opportunity to come out of a university and find employment as a result of what's happening on the floor now? Tell me.

DEGETTE: Right. Nobody, and that's what the the problem is. I mean, the problem is, they are catering to the far extreme right. They have passed this bill several times this Congress, and even worse bills. They've died in the Senate. And why don't they just say- okay, let's focus on coming together and having a jobs plan? Why don't we work with Democrats and with the President, and come up with a plan for jobs? Instead, they spend all their time frittering away, undermining the environmental laws, undermining a woman's right to choose, putting women's health at jeopardy. It's really a mystery to us.

BASHIR: Both the Speaker, Boehner, and Majority Leader [Eric] Cantor said they brought this bill to the floor to fulfill the pledge to America that many in the GOP made in 2010. Do you accept that they're only, basically, fulfilling a promise that they gave originally?

DEGETTE: Well, they've been fulfilling this pledge over and over and over this year. We've passed scores of bills that either take away women's health rights in general, or take away women's reproductive rights. So, I don't know how many times they have to fulfill this pledge, at the expense of fulfilling what should be everybody's pledge, which is to help create jobs for the millions of Americans out of work.

BASHIR: So are you suggesting that, in purely cynical terms, what they're trying to do is have this- kind of, what you said was a war on women, in order to injure the President? Is that really who they want to injure? And they're using the issue of women's reproductive rights in order to undermine the possibility, or even prevent the possibility, of there being any kind of substantive progress through the Congress on this jobs bill that the President has already presented?


DEGETTE: I really have no idea why the Republicans in the House would bring up yet another bill that restricts a woman's right to choose here and now, because we've already passed many of those bills. It- I think what it does is it caters to the far right, but it doesn't do anything to help us put more money in for women's health, to help women get cervical and breast cancer screening, to help them get the full range of reproductive services that they need, or to create one single job in this country. So I don't know what they're trying to do, but it certainly doesn't undermine them with the voters. I think it's- as you said at the beginning, the voters would be scratching their heads if they were watching this debate today, and say, what on earth is Congress doing? Even voters who don't believe in a woman's right to choose- surely, they think jobs should be the number one agenda item of the U.S. Congress.

BASHIR:  It certainly is for you. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, thank you so much for joining us.

DEGETTE: Great to be on- thanks.

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