By Kathleen Gilbert

June 26, 2009 ( – The June 18 episode of the Daily Show featured an unusual topic for a late-night comedy segment: abortion.  Host Jon Stewart, who said he blamed guest Mike Huckabee for the choice of topic, dejectedly pulled out a bottle of whiskey as the segment began.

But the ensuing discussion proved both civil and hard-hitting as the former Arkansas governor hashed out the logic of the pro-life position and explored common ground with his left-leaning host.

“I think sometimes this is an issue where people get, maybe – generating a lot more heat than light,” said Huckabee. “And for me, the issue is so much more than about abortion, it's about the fundamental issue of whether or not every human life has intrinsic worth and value.”

Stewart pressed Huckabee: “Do you think that on the side of choice, that they don't believe that every human life has value?”

“I don't think there's anybody that wakes up and says, 'I really think abortion is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Huckabee replied. “I don't truly believe that even people who would consider themselves 'pro-choice' like abortion – I think that they haven't thought through the implications and the logical conclusion.”

Noting that 93% of abortions in America are elective rather than health-based, Huckabee pointed out the consequences of training future generations “that it is OK to take a human life because that life represents to us an interference, or an interruption to our lives either economically or socially.”

“What happens when our children one day look at us and we're old?” he asked.  “I do not want to give my kids the opportunity to say, 'Dad, you are an interference.  Coming to see you in the nursing home is really messing up my social life. You are very expensive, Dad.'”  

Stewart, who questioned the comparison, softened his objection by admitting his affection for his own children before birth.

“Look, I have kids, and I think it is very difficult when you look at an ultrasound of your child and you see a heartbeat – you are filled with that wonder and love and all those things,” he said.  “I don't just feel personally that is a decision I can make for another person.”

Huckabee also pursued the question of equal rights in a parallel to slavery, asking: “Does a person have a right to own another person? … Can the mother totally own the child?”

“I just think our culture ought to do everything it can to support and encourage her to make a life decision and to be honest with her and to explain to her: this is a heartbeat, this is a child,” he said. 

The host expressed openness to Huckabee's arguments, though defending the pro-choice position throughout, and said he hoped “people begin to see that both sides can come at it with good faith and good intentions.”

“Out of all issues – I can be incredibly certain about so many issues and get my dander up, and self-righteousness,” said Stewart.  “This is one I can't, and this is the one that I probably, in the culture, struggle with the most. I think it's a very difficult issue.”

To watch Huckabee's appearance on the Daily Show, click here.

To watch the episode Canada, click here


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