After a retired nurse asked the presidential candidate her views on abortion in the third trimester, Gillibrand took the opportunity to call out the network for spreading a "false narrative" about the rare medical procedure.
"I want to talk about the role that Fox News plays in this, because it's a problem," Gillibrand said, after reaffirming her commitment to a woman's right to choose. "Before President Trump gave his State of the Union, Fox News talked about 'infanticide.' Infanticide doesn't exist..."
At this point, host Chris Wallace began interrupting her and scolded her for not being "very polite" when the network invited her on and is treating her "fairly."
At Fox News town hall, @SenGillibrand uses abortion question to stick it to the network.— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) June 3, 2019
GILLIBRAND: “Fox News talked about infanticide. Infanticide doesn’t exist —“
WALLACE [interrupts]: “Senator, senator … we brought you here for an hour, we’re treating you very fairly.” pic.twitter.com/1Xw6XVJtg2
Gillibrand patiently responded that her comments are relevant to the woman's question, and that she'll discuss Fox's coverage politely. "What happens on Fox News is relevant because they talked about 'infanticide' for 6.5 hours right before President Trump's State of the Union, mentioned it 35 times," she explained. "It doesn't happen, it's illegal, it's not a fact. And I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts. The facts are that women in this country have had a constitutional right" to make a decision about whether to have a child for over 40 years, thanks to 1973's Roe v. Wade.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1.3% of all abortions nationwide take place after 20 weeks of gestation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) urges politicians not to interfere in the patient-physician relationship, and to listen to the facts.
"Many abortions that occur later in pregnancy involve fetal anomalies incompatible with life, such as anencephaly, the absence of the brain and cranium above the base of the skull, or limb-body wall complex, when the organs develop outside of the body cavity," according to the ACOG. "In these cases, where death is likely before or shortly after birth, patients may decide whether to continue the pregnancy and deliver a nonviable fetus or have an abortion. In any case, the focus of medically appropriate, compassionate care must be on the patient and what she feels is best for her health and her family."
The ACOG states: "Abortion later in pregnancy may also be necessary when complications severely compromise a woman’s health or life, conditions which may also reduce the possibility of fetal survival. ... Politicians must never require a doctor to wait for a medical condition to worsen and become life-threatening before being able to provide evidence-based care to their patients, including an abortion."
President Donald Trump has distorted the widely available information about third-trimester abortions, making irresponsible statements such as that babies are being "ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth" in order to stir up emotion among his base. His administration has also, as Gillibrand said, emboldened scores of state legislatures to pass unconstitutional anti-abortion measures such as so-called "heartbeat bans," which doctors have decried for "playing politics with medicine."
"They're using an inflammatory rhetoric that is shaming women and shaming doctors," Melissa Rosenstein, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, previously told Refinery29. "It's really lacking completely in understanding, compassion, and respect for the complicated medical situations these women and their providers are facing. Women who are facing these difficult decisions are in them because they either have had a diagnosis of a terrible fetal anomaly, have faced multiple restrictions in accessing abortion care, or they are terribly sick and their life is in danger."
Other Democratic presidential candidates have made the decision not to appear on Fox News given its well-documented relationship with the Trump administration and the "not very polite" comments of some of its hosts. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Fox News a "hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists" and refused to appear in a town hall on the network. Sen. Kamala Harris has also said she wouldn't appear on Fox. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all held Fox News town halls.
In an effort to boost her polling and fundraising numbers and reach a new audience, Gillibrand decided to go into the "lion's den," as she put it — and made the most of it, blasting the NRA for being "the worst organization in this country," going after Trump for his border wall and trade war with China, and, somewhat improbably, explaining intersectionality and the phrase "our future is female" to Wallace. Hopefully what emerges will be a learning moment rather than more polarization.
Amazing exchange -- re: "What do you mean, our future is female," Wallace asks.— Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) June 2, 2019
Gillibrand starts answer w/ bringing in women's voices to the table.
Wallace: "What about men?"
Gillibrand: "They're already there - do you not know?"