What’s Going on Here?


An odd exchange on Fox News a short time ago. I know. That never happens, right? But this one has me really confused. Genuinely.The host was Alisyn Camerota, and she was doing a panel on health care reform where Bob Beckel was playing the liberal going up against Kate Obenshain of the conservative Young America’s Foundation.

The discussion turned to abortion restrictions in the health care reform bill, and of course Obenshain is opposed to any federal funds going to abortions, even indirectly via insurance policies subsidized by federal dollars.

At which point Camerota asks her, “If there is no federal money used to subsidize abortions for low-income women, doesn’t that mean there will be more low-income babies, and do any of these amendments talk about the health care for them then?”

Obenshain sort of does a double take and stumbles through an answer to the question. She is clearly put off her game, or confused, or maybe horrified. I was mostly confused. But the more I ponder it, the more I wonder if I shouldn’t just be horrified.

It was as if the Fox host were trying to play devil’s advocate and in her mind the counterargument to opposing federal funding for abortions is that you’ll end up having more low-income babies whose health care will cost the federal government even more than the abortions would.

Does that sort of crude cost-benefit analysis enter into anyone’s thinking when supporting federal funding for abortions? Who thinks this way? Is that a reflection of how the Fox host views the “pro-abortion” position? Or how she views the budget hawk position?

The jury is still out for me on what exactly she meant. But I’m curious what you think. Take a look and decide for yourself.

Late Benefit of the Doubt Update: TPM Reader LP offers up several possible explanations, one of which I hadn’t considered. While it’s maybe giving Camerota too much credit, it’s not completely implausible:

I may be naive here, but I can see why her question could have been posed in order to dredge up the subtextual nature of the forced-childbirth mentality’s two contradictory impulses: To control women on the one hand and to maintain the facade that “it’s all about the babies” on the other. If so, I think she did a splendid job of exposing the befuddled guests’ hypocrisy, which is what made her uncomfortable.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.