After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, CNN platformed an anti-abortion extremist -- twice -- to spout dangerous lies and misinformation, including a false claim that IVF could be considered murder.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, celebrated on Twitter her two CNN appearances after the decision came down on June 24:
She definitely had reason to celebrate. While CNN’s Pamela Brown and Alisyn Camerota provided some pushback to Hawkins’ lies, they were not prepared -- and neither is cable news in general -- to handle the wave of manufactured anti-abortion talking points that Hawkins has honed to become the dishonest and dangerous extremist she is today.
Hawkins, who told MSNBC back in 2017 that she would advocate for all contraceptives to be illegal, was never going to approach these interviews in good faith. Hawkins was ready with various lies about abortion pills, anti-abortion clinics (also known as crisis pregnancy centers), and rape and incest exceptions for abortion. In reality, abortion pills are safe, with less than 0.4% of patients requiring hospitalization or blood transfusions later and “an associated mortality rate of less than 0.001 percent.” Anti-abortion clinics engage in unethical and not medically compliant procedures, and rape and incest exceptions used to be supported by conservatives but have been abandoned as the party grew more extreme.
Hawkins’ most egregious and dangerous spin came in the first of her CNN interviews, with Brown on June 25. Brown asked Hawkins about IVF procedures where a doctor must discard nonviable embryos. Brown asked, “Is that doctor then a murderer?” Hawkins answered, “Yes, the doctor is ending human life,” and claimed that some IVF procedures should be banned.
Hawkins’ claim that IVF can be murder isn’t new -- the Students for Life website has a section on “talking points” about this issue. But the confines of quick cable news hits aren’t usually the best venue to debunk such an extremist. As seen in the interview, Hawkins delivered a dizzying array of supposed facts and practiced rhetoric that can misinform audiences.
However, CNN apparently saw it differently. At the end of the segment, Brown thanked Hawkins for “this fulsome discussion” and told her, “We'll have you back on for sure,” which the network did two days later on June 27 for an interview with Alisyn Camerota.
It went more or less the same.