Over the last few months, prior to abortionist George Tiller’s murder, Bill O’Reilly has made it quite clear that he believes late-term abortion is repugnant. That’s a fact not in dispute and one in which pro life supporters can agree with. Where O’Reilly‘s argument is seriously flawed, and where Joan Walsh, Editor in Chief of Salon.com, caught him in his inconsistency last week during his interview of her, is in his view of life and human dignity in general. As much as I disagree with Joan Walsh, and I disagree with great passion, she is at least consistently repulsive. Her view is that no matter the stage of the unborn life, a description she would not reject, a woman’s right to have an abortion takes precedence. What O’Reilly grants is that the killing of any unborn child is acceptable up until the point of “viability.” At this point and thereafter, abortion is not an option except to save the life of the mother. To his credit, he means her literal life, not her inability to party as a result of having a child. For O’Reilly, no casual abortions should ever be permitted after this point, but in a hierarchy of values, prior to this point of “viability,” O’Reilly would rank a woman’s right to choose higher than the life of the fetus. Sadly, his position on the value of a life is not predicated on a view that regards human dignity as inherent to all human life at every stage, but on a spurious functional view of human life that provides support for cases like that of Terri Schiavo and other cases involving euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.
What O’Reilly is referring to with his use of the term “viability” is the fetus’ ability to survive outside of the womb. This is probably an argument most people understand, but it is an unfortunate distinction because the value of life should never be determined by his ability or inability to survive unnatural circumstances. To take any person out of their natural environment where they thrive as a living organism would be a challenge to any person‘s survival. The viability of adult human life is dependent on oxygen, but we would never justify the murder of a person simply because they have chosen to swim under water. There is a sense in which this viability argument regards life outside of the womb the natural and the real and life in the womb as the unnatural and merely potential. This is consistent with O’Reilly in that prior to viability, he regards the unborn fetus as “potential” life. Even Walsh doesn’t make that claim, this is a concession O’Reilly has chosen to make to the pro-choice establishment.
O’Reilly continues to insist that his disgust by late-term abortion has nothing to do with Roe v. Wade, that this is an entirely separate, isolated discussion. Making a case against a certain type of abortion in this manner merely upholds the belief that a woman’s right to choose is the higher moral standard. Walsh is correct in stating that abortion is abortion, no matter the stage of the unborn life. O’Reilly’s spin on the nature of human life is inconsistent at best, but on the grand scale, his prominent voice is a danger to the cause and to all life before and after 24 weeks. If inconsistency is even-handed and consistency is extremism, then I am guilty.
Link to the O'Reilly/Walsh debate