Rosie on Catholic Justices: 'How About Separation of Church and State?'

On April 19, the ladies of "The View" offered their analysis of the Gonzales v. Carhart decision upholding a federal partial birth abortion ban. Most of the segment was a back and forth between Rosie O’Donnell, who clearly opposed the decision and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who supported it. Joy Behar and Barbara Walters chimed in occasionally with Behar clearly in the abortion rights camp and Barbara Walters mildly there. Video: Real (1.4 MB) or Windows (1.6 MB); plus MP3 (256 KB)

Rosie expressed horror that there are five Catholics on the Supreme Court and Catholics on the Court apparently violate the "separation of church and state"

O’DONNELL: You know what concerns me? How many Supreme Court judges are Catholic, Barbara?

WALTERS: Five.

O’DONNELL: Five. How about separation of church and state in America?

WALTERS: Every one of them, when they were going through their Senate confirmation hearings said the fact of my religion does not mean that I will vote a particular way because of my religion. So we cannot say that they did it because they’re Catholic. It is interesting that they’re Catholic.

Through the course of the segment, Rosie repeatedly emphasized that partial birth abortions only represent a very small percentage of abortions annually. Elisabeth reminded her that, that is still 2,000 lives lost each year.

Rosie repeatedly played up fears that this is "a way to get in to start eroding Roe v Wade," and it’s "as if the women’s movement never happened." She even quoted Gloria Steinem line, "if men can get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament." Rosie also provided this factually flawed analysis.

"The difference is, you know, we are half the population and there was a women's movement and, you know, feminism really was the reason that this bill, women's reproductive rights ever came into the forefront and was entered and was Constitutionally upheld since ‘73."

Roe v. Wade did not uphold any law. In fact, it struck down a Texas law prohibiting abortion. The entire transcript is below.

ROSIE O’DONNELL: Speaking back to where we started also Supreme Court came down and the first time since 1973 with a partial abortion ban.

BARBARA WALTERS: Five to four.

O’DONNELL: Five to four was the Supreme Court vote. Now it's shocking to me. This is the first time since 1973. Everyone agrees partial birth abortion is horrific. It’s horrific for anyone who has to decide it. 1.3 million abortions done in America every year, 2,000 partial birth abortions. What is that? Zero [pause] .1 percent, 0.1. This is just a way--

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: That's represents 2,000 lives.

O’DONNELL: Right, well, that represents 2,000 women who are at risk and this was their only option. This was not- no one electively chooses to have this kind of abortion.

HASSELBECK: In the partial abortion act, there is an exemption where- if the woman’s life were at risk–

WALTERS: Only her life, not her health

HASSELBECK: Not her health because people could probably claim and have their doctors vouch for them it would cause undue stress, anxiety. There's a lot of blurriness.

WALTERS: You know, most women don't want to have, after the first three months, most women would not want to have an abortion.

O’DONNELL: Right, this is not an elective abortion.

WALTERS: The worry about this is not the partial birth abortion. Well, yes, it is. But the worry, one of the dissenters was Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, and I’m going to read it because she said the majority opinion "cannot be understood in anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by the Court" and that is Roe v Wade. They are afraid this begins to chip away.

O’DONNELL: And it does.

JOY BEHAR: But that’s also what the NRA says too thought about gun control. They also say that if you, if you ban certain guns then you’re chipping away at the Second Amendment. Everybody has the same argument.

HASSELBECK: But this was also, this was kind of a bipartisan effort, actually. I mean in terms of, there were 16 Democrats in the Senate that voted for this ban. There were 63 Democrats in the House that voted for this ban. So it kind of crosses --

O’DONNELL: I don’t think it’s partisan. It's women -- I think women, we are half the population and we can have our bodies legislated by the government.

BEHAR: And men make those decisions.

O’DONNELL: If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.

[Applause]

HASSELBECK: But I think– this is not. I think we have to be careful because this is not a ban on abortion. I think this- what happened yesterday was actually probably more representative of what the majority of Americans want. We are in a country where people, not myself because I'm anti-abortion, I think people want the right to their abortions. Women want the right to their own bodies in this country.

O’DONNELL: Yes, women's reproductive freedom.

HASSELBECK: Right, but they- most of the people, two-thirds of this country do not want partial birth abortions to be legal.

O’DONNELL: But Elisabeth, it's .15 percent.

HASSELBECK: 2,000 lives, but we count the lives of--

O’DONNELL: Listen. 0.15 percent and mostly the baby is severely ill or the mother's life is at risk. Nobody voluntarily goes in and says "please give me a partial birth abortion because I would like to physically injure-" It is a grotesque procedure.

HASSELBECK: It is grotesque. They remove the child and crush the skull. That child is born into this earth.

O’DONNELL: But usually the woman's life is at risk Elisabeth.

HASSEBECK: There's an exemption here. If the woman's life is at risk it wouldn’t even be-- it's a moot issue.

O’DONNELL: Correct, but why is it brought up? Because it's a way to get in to start eroding Roe v Wade.

WALTERS: That is what the scare is. The scare is does this begin, is this the slippery slope? And we don't know. We will see.

O’DONNELL: It's as if the women’s movement never happened

HASSELBECK: I don't think that's true.

O’DONNELL: I certainly do. It is frightening to me.

BEHAR: I never thought it would be overturned, but it probably will be at some point, just like the Brady Bill was overturned.

O’DONNELL: The difference is, you know, we are half the population and there was a women's movement and, you know, feminism really was the reason that this bill, women's reproductive rights ever came into the forefront and was entered and was Constitutionally upheld since ‘73.

BEHAR: Right.

O’DONNELL: The women's movement, now, ladies we need to get together because we are on the precipice going backwards not forwards. And it is--

HASSELBECK: I'm all for women's rights. I sat on a Title Nine committee. I just don't believe that partial birth abortion should be legal. I don’t think it should. If the woman’s life is not at threat--

BEHAR: But you usually say that government should stay out of people's business. This is an example of that. This should be between a woman and her doctor not the government, right?

HASSELBECK: I also believe in the right to life and I believe this is a grotesque way of taking a life away.

O’DONNELL: But Elisabeth, the baby is usually either deformed or dead.

HASSELBECK: If I were going to give birth and I knew that I was having a baby that was going to have a deformity or some sort of illness.

O’DONNELL: Not a hair lip, not a limb missing severely something--

HASSELBECK: It would, it would not make me want to abort that child. I believe that child --

O’DONNELL: I know, but guess what? That's your choice

HASSELBECK: That’s me I’m just saying me.

O’DONNELL: That's your choice. Right. And every woman deserves that choice.

WALTERS: Nobody is saying you must or you should or you shouldn't.. [applause] What they are saying is choice.

HASSELBECK: It's a legal situation. I don't necessarily think this is a slippery slope. I think it's a valid concern.

O’DONNELL: You know what concerns me? How many Supreme Court judges are Catholic, Barbara?

WALTERS: Five.

O’DONNELL: Five. How about separation of church and state in America?

WALTERS: Every one of them, when they were going through their Senate confirmation hearings said the fact of my religion does not mean that I will vote a particular way because of my religion. So we cannot say that they did it because they’re Catholic. It is interesting that they’re Catholic.