NBC Turns to Planned Parenthood Abortionists to Attack Pro-Life Bills

Amidst numerous states across the country passing pro-life legislation to protect the unborn, NBC News decided to send medical correspondent Dr. John Torres to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri to provide abortion doctors at the facility a national media platform to denounce such measures.

The report was first promoted on Friday’s NBC Nightly News as correspondent Anne Thompson touted: “At the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic, doctors see their mission as helping women....Today telling NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres this new law would treat them as criminals if they perform abortions after eight weeks.”

 

 

A soundbite followed of Dr. Colleen McNicholas telling Torres: “They have somebody on their side. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘Hmm, today I might want to have an abortion.’” Planned Parenthood medical director Dr. David Eisenberg complained: “Patients are already confused. We are open, our doors will stay open, and we will stay open in whatever capacity we can.”

Thompson began the segment by lamenting: “This week’s protests couldn’t stop Missouri’s controversial abortion bill from becoming law.” Moments into the story, she warned:

Missouri’s is the latest in a wave of new state laws restricting abortion. It will ban abortions after eight weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exception, a medical emergency that risks the pregnant woman’s life. Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed the bill into law today.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, MSNBC continued to promote the interview. During the 2:00 p.m. ET hour, fill-in anchor Kasie Hunt talked to Torres about his sit-down with the abortion providers:

So, Dr. Torres, let’s talk about another way in which states have been going after or undermining abortion rights, and that is by using regulations. That clinic in Missouri that we have now learned is under threat of closure, I know you spoke with doctors there, because of course this has also been an issue broadly in Missouri.

Torres portrayed clinic staff as victims: “Last week, on Friday, I actually got to sit down with two of the doctors that provide abortions at the only freestanding abortion clinic in the state of Missouri, and their big concern is what’s gonna happen to them in the future.”

During the lengthy clip that followed, Torres repeatedly teed up the abortionists to dismiss pro-life legislation aimed at protecting unborn children. “What’s your reaction to the bill being called the ‘heartbeat bill’?,” he asked. Dr. McNicholas asserted:

Many of these bills are equating a six-week pregnancy as having a fetal heartbeat. At six weeks, we’re talking about essentially two tubes that are lined by some cardiac cells that can do some vibration. So to suggest or equate, you know, the singularity of the heart as being a sign of some sort of viability is really just medically inaccurate.

Torres then brought up partial-birth abortion and allowed McNicholas to suggest it was some kind of myth:

TORRES: Another term that’s been used a lot, “partial-birth abortion.” What’s the meaning behind that?

MCNICHOLAS: It’s not a thing. Again, you know, it’s another demonstration of how the legislatures and the extreme anti-choice groups have tried to coin language to sort of reach to people’s sort of heartstrings and emotions. From a medical lens, I have no idea what that means, right? That has not ever been a medical procedure and it continues to not be a medical procedure.

At no point did Torres confront her with the specifics of what a partial-birth abortion entails.

As the abortion issue continues to be hotly debated nationwide, NBC’s first instinct was to talk to abortion doctors who work for Planned Parenthood. When will the interview air with members of National Right to Life or other pro-life organizations?

Here is a full transcript of the May 24 segment on NBC Nightly News:

7:05 PM ET

KATE SNOW: Tonight there’s a new flashpoint on abortion. Missouri’s governor signing a law today banning the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy, the latest state to pass new restrictions. NBC’s Ann Thompson has that story.

ANNE THOMPSON: This week’s protests couldn’t stop Missouri’s controversial abortion bill from becoming law.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [MISSOURI STATE LEGISLATURE]: Should a child, a life inside a mother’s womb be killed due to the actions of its parents?

THOMPSON: Though it won’t take effect until the end of August, the impact was immediate at the state’s only clinic offering abortions.

DR. DAVID EISENBERG [PLANNED PARENTHOOD MEDICAL DIRECTOR]: Patients are already confused. We are open, our doors will stay open, and we will stay open in whatever capacity we can.

THOMPSON: Missouri’s is the latest in a wave of new state laws restricting abortion. It will ban abortions after eight weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exception, a medical emergency that risks the pregnant woman’s life. Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed the bill into law today.

GOV. MIKE PARSON [R-MO]: And I believe in two months you can make a decision. I believe that. That, that can be done. But in two months time, I also believe that, that child has rights.

THOMPSON: At the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic, doctors see their mission as helping women.

DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS [OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST]: They have somebody on their side. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, “Hmm, today I might want to have an abortion.”

THOMPSON: Today telling NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres this new law would treat them as criminals if they perform abortions after eight weeks.

MCNICHOLAS: But I could go to jail or lose my license. And what a terrible place we’re putting physicians in, a totally untenable ethical position.

THOMPSON: Kate, Missouri’s law is expected to be challenged in court, and that’s exactly what has happened in Mississippi. That new law there would have banned abortions after six weeks. But late this afternoon, a federal judge blocked the Mississippi law, saying it threatens immediate harm to women’s rights. The state is expected to appeal that ruling.

SNOW: A lot to watch.

THOMPSON: Yes.

SNOW: Anne Thompson, thank you.

Here is a portion of the Torres interview aired on MSNBC on May 28:

2:14 PM ET

(...)

KASIE HUNT: So, Dr. Torres, let’s talk about another way in which states have been going after or undermining abortion rights, and that is by using regulations. That clinic in Missouri that we have now learned is under threat of closure, I know you spoke with doctors there, because of course this has also been an issue broadly in Missouri.

DR. JOHN TORRES: Right, exactly. Last week, on Friday, I actually got to sit down with two of the doctors that provide abortions at the only freestanding abortion clinic in the state of Missouri, and their big concern is what’s gonna happen to them in the future. And we talked about a variety of things. At the time we were sitting down, the governor was signing the bill for the – the abortion bill itself in Missouri and it had restrictions in there. We talked to them about the restrictions and what they felt of the signing of the bill itself, what that meant to them. And here’s what they had to say.

What’s your reaction to the governor signing the bill today?

DR. COLLEEN MCNICHOLAS [OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST]: I’m certainly not surprised. I think we were expecting it. As we’re sort of pursuing all of our legal routes and challenges that are possible, we here at Planned Parenthood will continue to make sure that Missourians who need abortion care will be able to get that. Whether that be with us or with another provider.

DR. DAVID EISENBERG [PLANNED PARENTHOOD MEDICAL DIRECTOR]: While the governor has signed the bill, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually in effect yet. Abortion is still legal and accessible here at Planned Parenthood in Missouri, as we are the last freestanding clinic for abortion care in the state.

TORRES: What’s your reaction to the bill being called the “heartbeat bill”?

MCNICHOLAS: Many of these bills are equating a six-week pregnancy as having a fetal heartbeat. At six weeks, we’re talking about essentially two tubes that are lined by some cardiac cells that can do some vibration. So to suggest or equate, you know, the singularity of the heart as being a sign of some sort of viability is really just medically inaccurate.

TORRES: Another term that’s been used a lot, “partial-birth abortion.” What’s the meaning behind that?

MCNICHOLAS: It’s not a thing. Again, you know, it’s another demonstration of how the legislatures and the extreme anti-choice groups have tried to coin language to sort of reach to people’s sort of heartstrings and emotions. From a medical lens, I have no idea what that means, right? That has not ever been a medical procedure and it continues to not be a medical procedure.

EISENBERG: But I think language matters. I teach this to the medical students, I teach this to the residents. And when we are clear on the terminology in the medical space, it’s easy to talk to patients. But when it’s not clear on the legal realm with these laws being passed and conflating all this language, it makes it impossible to be a health care provider and do the right thing for your patients without wondering, “Am I or am I not in line with the law?”

TORRES: And, Kasie, that was a conversation we had on Friday. Today we had a press conference with one of those doctors and Planned Parenthood in general, and they essentially said exactly what you were talking about. It looks like that clinic is being threatened to be closed on Friday because of some restrictions that the state is putting in place.

(...)

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