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O'Reilly wrongly claimed that "about 50 percent of the country's pro-life"
Media Matters
October6, 2005

On the October 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that "about 50 percent of the country's pro-life." In fact, less than 40 percent of Americans identified themselves as "pro-life" in a recent Gallup poll, and more than 60 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established the right to abortion.

O'Reilly's comment came during an attack on recent articles about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers by syndicated columnist Molly Ivins and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. In her October 4 column, Ivins wrote that "Miers' church states on its Web site that it believes in biblical inerrancy, full immersion baptism, original sin and salvation dependent entirely upon accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone else is going to hell." Dowd, in her October 5 column (subscription required), wrote of Miers: "And we're expected to have faith in his faith and her faith, and her opinions that derive from her faith that could change the balance of the court and affect women's rights for the next generation."

In fact, contrary to O'Reilly's assertion that half the country is "pro-life," an August 28-30 Gallup poll (subscription required) found that 54 percent of respondents self-identify as "pro-choice," while only 38 percent consider themselves "pro-life," with a margin of error of +/-3 percent. Another Gallup poll, taken from July 7-10, asked:

    "The 1973 Roe versus Wade decision established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Would you like to see the Supreme Court COMPLETELY OVERTURN its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?"

68 percent said "No, not overturn"; only 29 percent said "Yes, overturn." The poll had a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

Other polls of the public's views on abortion concur with Gallup's findings. A CBS News poll taken July 13-14 showed that 60 percent feel that Roe v. Wade was a "good thing," while 32 percent feel it was a "bad thing," with a margin of error of +/-4 percent. In a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll taken July 13-17, 65 percent of respondents said "No" to overturning Roe v. Wade, while 29 percent said "Yes," with a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

From the "Talking Points Memo" segment on the October 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

    O'REILLY: We don't know how Harriet Miers sees abortion. All we know is that she's a member of an evangelical Christian church. That's enough to disqualify her in the eyes of Ivins and Dowd. So let's get this straight. If you belong to conservative Christian church, these women believe you have no right to serve your country in a decision-making capacity. I mean, how crazy is that? About 50 percent of the country's pro-life. Are you telling me these people are disqualified from public service in America? I don't even think they know it, but Ivins and Dowd are espousing an anti-Christian bias, and they're not the only ones.

— S.G.

I'll be putting up state by state polls on pro choice and pro life in a day or two. There are very few states that are pro choice.