'Nightline' Promotes Abortion's 'Virtues' to Undermine Alito Confirmation

ABC News’ Martin Bashir last evening on “Nightline” brought on an Arkansas “abortionist” to sell America the virtues of this oftentimes ghastly procedure, while making a political statement against the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Bashir even suggested that those who have abortions are “born again.” The piece began with Bashir sharing some abortion statistics – with graphics – to demonstrate how commonplace it is in our society (ABC News video link to follow):

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) For anyone who thinks that abortion is not a daily ritual of American life, then consider these statistics.

GRAPHICS: 1 IN 4 PREGNANCIES END IN ABORTION

MARTIN BASHIR: (Voiceover) One in four pregnancies ends in abortion. And at current rates, a third of all American women will have an abortion by the age of 45.

GRAPHICS: ONE THIRD OF AMERICAN WOMEN WILL HAVE AN ABORTION BY AGE 45

Bashir then introduced Dr. William Harrison, “a man who's content to be known as the abortionist of Arkansas.” His schedule this day? “The appointment book at Dr. William Harrison's office is full again. Three abortions in the morning, another three scheduled this afternoon.” Dr. Williams then claimed to have performed as many as 12,000 abortions.

Then, Bashir painted a bleak picture of what existed in our nation before the Supreme Court’s controversial “Roe v. Wade” decision:

MARTIN BASHIR: (Voiceover) As a young doctor practicing before the Roe V. Wade ruling, Dr. Harrison says he came across patients who took matters in their own hands. Sometimes with devastating effects.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: We had a young woman who was 16 years old who tried to abort herself with a caustic douche. And she had burned her vagina. And the vagina hade been completely closed, it was destroyed, basically. My conscience calls me to do abortions because I consider the mother's life much, much more important than that tiny little blob of tissue.

Next, Bashir got political:

MARTIN BASHIR: (Voiceover) Now Dr. Harrison's concern is no longer with critics and protesters but with the prospect of Judge Samuel Alito being confirmed.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: And I think he's going to be confirmed. And I think Roe V. Wade will be gone within a year.

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) You really believe that?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: Yeah, absolutely. And that's going to be a disaster for the young and the poor in this country.

Bashir then sold the necessity of abortion in our nation:

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) Roe V. Wade was originally conceived as an opportunity for women to have choice. But you seem to be suggesting that the women that you see actually have no choice.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: Most of the young women that I see are single, a lot of them have two or three children already. They frequently are on minimum wage jobs. They often have no medical insurance, and they're struggling to just make it day to day.

Bashir then depicted a gruesome position against adoption as an alternative to abortion:

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) Do you ever mention in your counseling the possibility of adoption as an alternative?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: No. Not unless the patient asks me. You know, it's easy to say adoption is a better option but...

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) You don't even mention it?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: Pardon?

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) You don't even mention it?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: Not unless the patient asks me, no. I've had one patient who gave up two babies for adoption. She committed suicide the year before last. And my patients who have given up babies for adoption and then had abortions, tell me that the most difficult thing that they've ever done is to give up a baby for adoption. It's not like giving away a puppy.

At one point, Dr. Harrison said: "Basically, abortion is a method of birth control. You know, it's not the best method of birth control. But all it does is stop the birth of a baby that a woman doesn't want at a time she doesn't want it." Yet, Bashir never asked Dr. Harrison if he discusses conventional birth control methods with his patients. This is particularly curious given that Dr. Harrison said, "I've had lots of patients who come in for second, third, fourth, fifth, even one who had nine abortions."

Bashir concluded by painting a picture of abortion being a way for women to be “born again”:

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) Many doctors who look back on their career might reflect on great healings that they were involved in, great surgeries and operations which solved a serious, potentially life-threatening problem. How do you reflect on your career?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: I've had one of the most emotionally satisfying careers that I can imagine anyone having. I can't tell you how satisfying it is, when two weeks after a young woman has come in distraught and thinking that her life is ruined, and she comes back two – two weeks after the abortion and she is a new woman. She's been given her life back.

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) And for her to be born again, you've had to kill the fetus.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: Uh-huh. That's right.

MARTIN BASHIR: (Off-camera) And that's a fair exchange?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON: That's a fair exchange.

What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and an ABC News video link. My thanks to the reader who sent me an e-mail message concerning this “Nightline” installment.

TOPIC: ABORTION DOCTOR IN ARKANSAS

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) For anyone who thinks that abortion is not a daily ritual of American life, then consider these statistics.

GRAPHICS: 1 IN 4 PREGNANCIES END IN ABORTION

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) One in four pregnancies ends in abortion. And at current rates, a third of all American women will have an abortion by the age of 45.

GRAPHICS: ONE THIRD OF AMERICAN WOMEN WILL HAVE AN ABORTION BY AGE 45

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) But abortion has long been a secretive, sometimes shameful process done by anonymous doctors behind tightly closed doors. But the doctor you're about to meet wants you to know what he does and why he does it. We went South to visit a man who's content to be known as the abortionist of Arkansas. Some of the women we met in his clinic asked us not to show their faces.

GRAPHICS: THE CLINIC

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) The appointment book at Dr. William Harrison's office is full again. Three abortions in the morning, another three scheduled this afternoon.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Usually we do about six abortions a day, four days a week.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) That's a lot of abortions.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

I think it's probably close to ten or 12,000 now. I really - I never have counted.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) For more than 30 years, Dr. Harrison has been the sole provider of abortions in northwest Arkansas. He even sees patients from across state lines. Patients like this 18-year-old college student who asked us not to show her face or give her name.

PATIENT (FEMALE)

I am here to get an abortion because I'm pregnant and it's not the right time in my life to have a baby.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) As a young doctor practicing before the Roe V. Wade ruling, Dr. Harrison says he came across patients who took matters in their own hands. Sometimes with devastating effects.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

We had a young woman who was 16 years old who tried to abort herself with a caustic douche. And she had burned her vagina. And the vagina hade been completely closed, it was destroyed, basically. My conscience calls me to do abortions because I consider the mother's life much, much more important than that tiny little blob of tissue.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) It's interesting you say it's a blob of tissue, but as you know after just 21 days, the heart is pumping blood. At 42 days, the child has recordable brain waves. And you are, every day, relentlessly terminating that life, and you're happy with that?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Am I happy with it? No, but I'm not distressed about it. I would be a lot more distressed if I could not terminate that life for the patient that that life is going to be a disaster for.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) But the argument that illegal abortion puts women's lives in danger has never convinced opponents of Dr. Harrison. In the 1980s, daily protests were commonplace outside of the clinic. Sometimes they turned violent.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

My office was fire-bombed in 1985 by a 14-year-old who just seen 'The Silent Scream" at a church function. I received so many death threats that I've forgotten how many there were.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) Now Dr. Harrison's concern is no longer with critics and protesters but with the prospect of Judge Samuel Alito being confirmed.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

And I think he's going to be confirmed. And I think Roe V. Wade will be gone within a year.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) You really believe that?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Yeah, absolutely. And that's going to be a disaster for the young and the poor in this country. I've had lots of patients who come in for second, third, fourth, fifth, even one who had nine abortions.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Is that really appropriate?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

If she needs nine abortions, yeah.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Roe V. Wade was originally conceived as an opportunity for women to have choice. But you seem to be suggesting that the women that you see actually have no choice.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Most of the young women that I see are single, a lot of them have two or three children already. They frequently are on minimum wage jobs. They often have no medical insurance, and they're struggling to just make it day to day.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) Women are given an ultrasound to see how far along they are in their pregnancy. The 18-year-old we met wanted to see the photo of her fetus.

DOCTOR (FEMALE)

Right here between those two little crosses is the embryo.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) Patients then fill out paperwork and are given state-mandated pamphlets on abortion alternatives.

PATIENT (FEMALE)

I think the being nervous will hit me tomorrow more. Yeah, but I am a little nervous now. And it'll probably hit me and I'll probably be a little upset tomorrow.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) The pre-operative process is over. The 18-year-old's termination is scheduled tomorrow.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) When does life begin in the uterus?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

When the fertilization occurs. That is a new life. And that's why I say that I kill life, but I kill something that's potentially a person. It's not a person.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) When we come back, Dr. Harrison explains why he believes his patients are born again, and why he thinks his career has been emotionally satisfying.

GRAPHICS: NIGHTLINE

ANNOUNCER

ABC News 'Nightline," brought to you by...

COMMERCIAL BREAK

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) More now from my visit from the man who calls himself the Arkansas abortionist, and who says that his patients are born again as a result of his intervention. Outside of the abortion clinic of Dr. William Harrison, Roxanne Forsythe is praying for the babies she believes the doctor is murdering.

ROXANNE (PROTESTER)

Thou shall not kill. And he is killing these unborn babies.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) In the discrete suburb of Fayetteville, Arkansas, rests the beating heart of a broiling national debate.

ROXANNE (PROTESTER)

The blood of these children are on our shoulders and God will judge it. He will not let this go on. And we need Supreme Court justices that will do morally what's right.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) But, on the other side of the door, what she's praying against is about to take place. The 18-year-old student is back for her abortion.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Did you see a photograph of the fetus yesterday?

PATIENT (FEMALE)

Yes, I did.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) What effect did that have?

PATIENT (FEMALE)

It made it a little more difficult. I think it made me a little more nervous about it.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Did you consider the possibility of perhaps adoption?

PATIENT (FEMALE)

I thought about it. But I really thought that that might be even harder going through the whole pregnancy stage and seeing the child and then having to give it away, I just think would really, really tear me up inside.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Do you ever mention in your counseling the possibility of adoption as an alternative?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

No. Not unless the patient asks me. You know, it's easy to say adoption is a better option but...

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) You don't even mention it?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Pardon?

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) You don't even mention it?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Not unless the patient asks me, no. I've had one patient who gave up two babies for adoption. She committed suicide the year before last. And my patients who have given up babies for adoption and then had abortions, tell me that the most difficult thing that they've ever done is to give up a baby for adoption. It's not like giving away a puppy.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Voiceover) The patient is given a sedative and a drug called Verced that will help blur her memory of the entire procedure. The abortion takes no more than a few minutes.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) You've made abortion an accessible, a safe, a fairly straightforward procedure in your clinic. Do you worry at all that by doing so you've lessoned the gravity of what you're doing? That in some ways, you've undermined the significance of what you're doing?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Absolutely not. What I've tried to do is demonstrate how important it is to make a choice, a rational choice about whether you're going to have a baby or have an abortion. The most important decision that a woman ever makes is to have a baby. Whether you have an abortion or not is relatively minor. Basically, abortion is a method of birth control. You know, it's not the best method of birth control. But all it does is stop the birth of a baby that a woman doesn't want at a time she doesn't want it.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Many doctors who look back on their career might reflect on great healings that they were involved in, great surgeries and operations which solved a serious, potentially life-threatening problem. How do you reflect on your career?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

I've had one of the most emotionally satisfying careers that I can imagine anyone having. I can't tell you how satisfying it is, when two weeks after a young woman has come in distraught and thinking that her life is ruined, and she comes back two weeks after the abortion and she is a new woman. She's been given her life back.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And for her to be born again, you've had to kill the fetus.

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

Uh-huh. That's right.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) And that's a fair exchange?

DOCTOR WILLIAM HARRISON (PHYSICIAN)

That's a fair exchange.

MARTIN BASHIR (ABC NEWS)

(Off-camera) Two days in the life of Dr. William Harrison and some of his patients in Arkansas.

ABC News Video Link

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.