MSNBC's Craig Melvin Slams Pro-life Congresswoman Over Abortion Bill

Craig Melvin typified MSNBC’s stance on abortion Tuesday morning. Filling in for Thomas Roberts as the anchor of MSNBC Live, Melvin conducted a rabid attack-dog interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) about an abortion bill before the House of Representatives that would ban abortion after 20 weeks with a few exceptions, such as rape and incest. Minutes later, Melvin brought on hard-left abortionist Irin Carmon from Salon.com for a gooey softball interview which served as a platform for Carmon to rip into Blackburn's stance on the bill.

Melvin was ticked off that this abortion bill, proposed by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), only allows exceptions for rape and incest when those crimes are reported. He condescended to Blackburn: “Congresswoman, do you know how many cases of rape and incest go unreported in this country every year?”


The host announced a statistic to the effect that 54 percent of rapes go unreported in America every year. This made him concerned that the government might become too deeply involved in health care: “Doesn't this requirement in the bill that rape or incest must be reported, doesn't that put the law between the patient and the doctor?”

Keeping government out of health care decisions? Where was Craig during the ObamaCare debate?

One would think that Melvin, if he presumes to care about women, would favor a proposal that will encourage more rape and incest victims to report their attackers and hopefully bring them to justice. But then again, as we at NewsBusters noted, back in 2011 Melvin voiced opposition to the idea of women shooting men who try to attack them, worrying that such women would be presuming guilt.

It seems like Melvin is content that more than half of rapes go unreported. Rather than wanting to encourage more victims to report rape and incest, he wants to allow these crimes to be kept quiet. That does not sound like a compassionate position.

Later in the interview, Melvin hammered Blackburn on the idea that abortion restrictions would encourage more women to turn to unsafe abortions:
 

"[N]o concern at all, that as you continue to pile on restrictions, you make it far more difficult and as a result you have women who are going to – because you and I both know that women are going to find ways to get abortions in this country. They did so before Roe v. Wade. They’ll continue to do so no matter what. No concern that this is going to lead to unsafe conditions?"
 

Hmm. Interesting. How come none of the liberals on MSNBC apply that line of thinking to the gun control debate? After all, you and I both know that criminals are going to find ways to get guns in this country. They’ll continue to do so no matter what. Is there no concern that gun restrictions might lead to an unsafe situation in which a law-abiding citizen is unable to defend himself against an armed robber? Or a woman is unable to defend herself from a rapist?

Near the end of the interview, Melvin got more offensive.  “Congresswoman, is this purely pandering?” Blackburn expressed her outrage that Melvin would suggest that saving the lives of women and babies was pandering. But rather than backing down, Melvin plowed on: “You and I both know that the president’s not going to sign it, the Senate’s not going to take it up, so clearly this is a measure that’s symbolic, is it not?

Or maybe, just maybe, Blackburn and other Republicans believe that limiting late-term abortions is the right thing to do, regardless of whether the politics are feasible or not. Liberals are always accusing Republicans of playing politics. Shouldn’t they be happy that House Republicans are putting principle ahead of politics in this situation?

Also, if the president would veto the bill and the Senate is refusing to take it up, isn’t that a little something called obstructionism? Nah – only Republicans obstruct bills from being passed. Democrats simply oppose them, and on principle, apparently.

After the heated interview with Blackburn ended, Melvin invited Salon.com’s Irin Carmon onto the set to trash the congresswoman. With Blackburn gone, Melvin let his opinion on the bill fly: “This seems to be, on its face at least, the most aggressive bill yet to put restrictions on abortion across the country. Why now?”

Carmon provided aid and comfort to Melvin, confirming some of the suspicions he had voiced in his interview with Blackburn: “Well, as you mentioned, there is a base that they have to pander to. They are hoping to capitalize on the Kermit Gosnell trial.” She also spewed some typical pro-abortion talk: “And, you know, [Blackburn’s] compassion for women includes limiting their choices and telling them exactly what they should be doing with their bodies.” Which is utter hogwash; Blackburn only wants to prevent women from doing one very specific thing, and not to their bodies, but to the independent human being growing inside of them.

Of course, Melvin never challenged Carmon on her pro-abortion views. After all, abortionists are the sane ones in the eyes of MSNBC. They are the normal ones. Only pro-lifers deserve to be ridiculed mercilessly.

Here is a transcript of the interviews:

CRAIG MELVIN: You are leading this debate in place of your colleague, Trent Franks, who of course sparked a great deal of outrage after he made comments on rape and pregnancy last week. I do want to remind our viewers what he said.




TRENT FRANKS: The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low. But when you make that exception, there is usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours.

MELVIN: Do you agree that the number of rapes from pregnancy is low?

MARSHA BLACKBURN: Well, I think that what, you know, is that Representative Franks has apologized for his comments and the bill has been amended which does allow the exceptions of rape and incest and the life of the mother and that was the appropriate step to take.

MELVIN: But the bill only allows the exception for rape when it’s reported. Only allows the exception for incest when it’s reported, is that correct?

BLACKBURN: There is a reporting requirement in the text of the bill. And the hope is that that will help with getting some of these perpetrators out of the population that are committing these crimes against women and against minor females. We certainly would hope that we could rid our society of these perpetrators.

MELVIN: Congresswoman, do you know how many cases of rape and incest go unreported in this country every year?

BLACKBURN: You know, I know that any rape and any incest is a horrible and horrific crime. And what we want to do, and the purpose of the legislation today, Craig, is to make certain that those who are carrying out crimes against women and against these unborn babies are dealt with. You know, it’s so interesting to see what has transpired after the public became aware of the Kermit Gosnell situation in Philadelphia. And I don’t know how you all covered that...

MELVIN: I want to come back to – I do want to talk about Hermit Gosnell [sic]. But I do want to go back to this unreported rapes and incest figure -- 54 percent, that’s the amount right now according to the most recent information, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network – 54 percent of rapes are not reported in America every year. Doesn't this requirement in the bill that rape or incest must be reported, doesn't that put the law between the patient and the doctor?

BLACKBURN: We are – we have a very narrowly drafted bill. It deals specifically with these late term abortions. My hope is that we can show tremendous compassion to anyone who has been a victim of rape, a victim of incest, and that we can rid our society of these perpetrators who carry out these crimes many times repeatedly, on their victims.

MELVIN: Congresswoman, how do you fight rapists with an abortion bill?

BLACKBURN: What we are seeking to do is fight the Kermit Gosnells and the Doug Carpins and to end this practice of late term abortion, which is killing these babies, which is harming women. Eighty percent of the American people, according to a Gallup/USA Today poll agree with us on this – that all late-term abortions should be stopped. That 60 percent of all second-trimester abortions should be stopped. That when a baby feels pain, that you should not carry out that abortion.
 
***

MELVIN: But I do want to talk about something you brought up, Kermit Gosnell. House Speaker John Boehner said last week that this new push came about in part because of that trial of course, the abortion provider just sentenced to life in prison for killing babies. We all know that those kinds of cases are rare. Coupled with the recent state restrictions that are chipping away at the number of weeks, how concerned are you that measures like this will lead, at some point, to unsafe abortions, to a great deal of unsafe abortions –  backroom abortions, alley abortions. How concerned are you about that?

BLACKBURN: Well, I think what we’re concerned about is the fact that as states have started their investigations and you’ve got 15 states over the last three years that have moved forward with these investigations, the stories that are coming forward are horrific, whether it is Texas, whether it is Gosnell, whether it is New Mexico, whether it is West Virginia, whether it is the state of Virginia, whether it is Delaware with two pro-choice nurses that came forward and said we quit an abortion clinic because we didn't want to lose our medical license. So what we have seen as the states have started this, and as we at Energy and Commerce Committee are now in a – we’ve been in our investigation on this, Craig, for about two and a half years. And looking at what is transpiring that is endangering the health and safety of women and babies, and we know that the American people are wanting us to do something about this.

MELVIN: Congresswoman, I hate to interrupt you. But if I didn't interrupt you, I probably wouldn’t be able to get questions in. But in all seriousness here, no concern at all, that as you continue to pile on restrictions, you make it far more difficult and as a result you have women who are going to – because you and I both know that women are going to find ways to get abortions in this country. They did so before Roe v. Wade. They’ll continue to do so no matter what. No concern that this is going to lead to unsafe conditions?

BLACKBURN: We are incredibly concerned about the well-being, the safety, the health of these women. The life of women. And of these babies. That is why we are doing this. Because the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the information that has subsequently come from other states, public opinion has said something needs to be done about this. So you know, Craig, this is one of those issues where science is on our side, public opinion is on our side –
MELVIN: You said that. One more question really quickly.



BLACKBURN: – we are taking a step to do something about it.

MELVIN: One more question. Not all Republicans are on board with this. Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told the New York Times, quote, ‘I think it’s a stupid idea to bring this up. The economy is on everybody's minds. We’re seeing staggering jobs numbers. Confidence in the institution of government is eroding.’ Why are Republicans still going down this road right now, Congresswoman? Even though we both know that this has absolutely no chance of ever passing?

BLACKBURN: You know, it’s so interesting. Everybody says, maybe the Senate should dictate everything that gets done in Washington, D.C. If they did that, we wouldn’t get anything done because the Senate, my goodness, we couldn't even get them to pass a budget for five years. And so this is something that the American people have said, you need to do something about this. Women have said, you need to do something about these late-term abortions. It is – there's a tremendous amount of public support for taking an action, for putting a ban on these late term abortions and –

MELVIN: Congresswoman, is this purely pandering?

BLACKBURN: No, it isn’t pandering at all. Is saving the life of women and of babies pandering? Absolutely not. I can't believe you would say something like that.

MELVIN: But congresswoman, you know –

BLACKBURN: My goodness!

MELVIN: You and I both know that the president’s not going to sign it, the Senate’s not going to take it up, so clearly this is a measure that’s symbolic, is it not?

BLACKBURN: You know what? It would be terrible if we sat on our hands, knowing what we found out through Kermit Gosnell's trial, knowing that even his own attorney said 24 weeks is a bad determiner. The law needs to be moved back to 16 or 17 weeks. We're not moving this back as far as Kermit Gosnell's attorney said it should be moved back. We are taking a very reasonable step because the American people have spoken out and said they wanted something done. The U.S. House of Representatives is the people's house. There are so many debates that are up to us to start the discussion. We will do that today, and thank you for your attention to the issue.

MELVIN: Thank you for your time as well.

******

MELVIN: You were over in the shadows watching the interview there. This seems to be, on its face at least, the most aggressive bill yet to put restrictions on abortion across the country. Why now?

IRIN CARMON: Well, as you mentioned, there is a base that they have to pander to. They are hoping to capitalize on the Kermit Gosnell trial. There’s a real difference between what this bill would ban and what Kermit Gosnell was convicted of. He was convicted of murdering live infants that were post-viability. This is we’re talking about the 1.5 percent of abortions that take place after 20 weeks that are usually in very straightened circumstances, whether it’s medically indicated, whether it’s very young people who didn't know that they were pregnant. With all due respect to Representative Blackburn, if you want to have fewer later abortions, she has voted and stood in the way of every measure that would potentially lower the absolute number of later abortions. Whether it’s voting twice to defund Planned Parenthood, whether it’s voting against insurance coverage of abortion, which often women have abortions later because they can't pay. And, you know, her compassion for women includes limiting their choices and telling them exactly what they should be doing with their bodies.

MELVIN: You had a piece out yesterday and you wrote in part, quote, ‘Republicans think they’re winning the abortion wars now.’ What exactly did you mean by that?

CARMON: Well, I mean, I think they are -- they are hoping that by focusing on the rare later abortions, which are less popular with the American public -- very, very difficult cases, as I mentioned -- that they can refocus this argument the way that they did in the ‘90s with the partial-birth abortion ban, which was a phrase that they made up. As you mentioned, this is totally not grounded in science. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the   British equivalent, the American Medical Association, have all said that it has nothing to do with science. Unfortunately, we all know that House Republicans, from which Todd Akin came, are not great respecters of science. However, they’re hoping that they can create their own reality, their own set of science, stigmatize women who get later abortions, and maybe earn a political victory. Unfortunately, they can't stop talking about rape.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.