A new Dr. Phil installment centering on abortion and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade saw a pro-life advocate clash with the show’s host and an audience member during several tense exchanges on Monday.
In the first episode of Dr. Phil’s 21st season, pro-life activist Lila Rose sat down with the doctor, as well as a pro-choice couple to discuss various facets of the abortion issue, including the question of when life begins.
Dr. Phil said nobody on the panel is “pro-death” or “pro-abortion,” instead labeling the divide over abortion as a disagreement between those who are “pro-choice,” and those who are “pro-life.” He then turned to Rose and claimed there is no “consensus” among the scientific community about when life forms.
“There is Dr. Phil, 96% of scientists say that begins at fertilization–,” Rose said as Dr. Phil began to talk over her.
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“No, actually there’s not–,” Dr. Phil quickly replied as Rose continued her point.
“If you’re an in-vitro specialist you’re looking to create a single cell embryo, then you know you have a human life, so it is a scientific fact,” Rose added, as Dr. Phil continued the crosstalk, asking her to let him finish.
Dr. Phil then again asserted there is no scientific consensus. Rose asked the host when he believes life begins. Dr. Phil replied that it didn’t matter what he believed, calling her claim about scientific consensus “not true.” Rose called his position “simply inaccurate.”
The host opened up a booklet where he noted that some neuroscientists purport that life begins when there is a detectable brain wave.
“In an abortion if it’s not a human life why do you have to kill it?” Rose interjected.
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“I haven’t spoken over you, and you keep speaking over me and I assume that’s because you don’t want me to finish my though which is if anyone here wants to fact-check me instead of speak over me, you can go to the scientific literature and query what the definition is of the beginning of life, and you will find that there are different definitions,” Dr. Phil retorted.
Rose’s claim that there is scientific consensus that life begins at fertilization appears to stem from a survey conducted by the nonpartisan “Brief of Biologists as Amici Curiae in Support of Neither Party.” The survey was submitted to the Supreme Court before the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The survey found that 96% of the 5,577 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions surveyed affirmed that a human’s life begins at fertilization. Furthermore, 85% of the 5,577 biologists self-identified as pro-choice, 89% self-identified as liberal, and 95% claimed that they held a Ph.D.
Another contentious debate erupted when Dr. Phil began to take questions from the audience. One woman began yelling at Rose for her pro-life stance. She told Rose that she had “no empathy.”
“There is nothing that you can possibly say to justify that level of lack of empathy,” the woman said, prompting many in the audience to clap. “That’s the problem I feel like in this country, at the moment, we were founded on the lack of empathy, and we’ve just kept up with that tradition. You have no empathy.”
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Rose replied that nobody talks about how devastating abortion can be on a woman’s mental health, to which the audience member began speaking over her.
“You know what it’s really like to get raped and then have to have the child, what kind of trauma is that producing on somebody?” she asked.
“The child’s an innocent party there–,” Rose said.
“The child isn’t born yet—it’s not there,” the woman angrily replied.
Rose said that “generational sin” should not be taken out on a child, to which the woman clarified that the discussion should rather be on the fact that a right was taken away, and that women should be concerned about what rights are next.
“I want to address that because our fundamental right that we all share in this room is life,” Rose said. “It’s the first human right. Laws are meant to protect the week, in a society who’s the weakest? Who’s the weakest in society? A child. They don’t have a voice.”
The woman then claimed that the poorest people in a society are the weakest, not a child. Rose somewhat agreed, noting that the poor, children, and the disabled are among the weakest in society. She concluded by stating that “whether you live 10 minutes or 10 years, or 100 years, you’re a human life, and you have the right not to be killed.”