By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life
Editor’s note. Kansas was the first state to pass the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act followed closely by Oklahoma.
I came across an article online this weekend in which a media critic from the Los Angeles Times insightfully demonstrated the abortion bias of the media. The article was in-depth, explaining reasons why 82% of reporters supported abortion, and then listing the ways the media shapes biased messages, including how:
- abortion advocates are quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably;
- the news media consistently use language and images favoring abortion;
- newspaper op-eds favoring abortion are 2 to 1 to those opposing it.
The trigger for the analysis had been a complaint from a female reporter that abortion interests were unhappy about her reports that examined advances in the treatment of premature babies. She was told to back off because those reports were undermining support for the abortion-rights movement.
It’s logical that abortion proponents would indeed want fewer glowing reports in which medical practitioners admirably perform surgery to save preemie babies (as in the recent PBS series, Twice Born), because it can only unfavorably contrast with abortion practitioners who brutally dismember living babies in the womb–a practice recently banned in Kansas and Oklahoma. (More on this momentarily.)
But something caused me to stop reading and turn back to the byline. That’s when I got a surprise, because the article I was reading was actually published in July of 1990! The author was the late Pulitzer Prize-winning media-critic, David Shaw. (See here.)
Shaw’s observations from 25 years ago were as current as when he first wrote them–as borne out in this Friday’s NPR/All Things Considered radio report on the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act and an editorial published Sunday in the Times blasting the same law.
First, the NPR radio report. It was filed by an intern, Eleanor Klibanoff, who taped me talking for nearly one hour (yes, I can speak nonstop on this bill). During that interview, I spoke of the law’s purpose, the Supreme Court’s role and –repeatedly– the gruesome shredding of unborn children while the mothers are anesthetized.
At the reporter’s request I even specifically read aloud the law’s definition of dismemberment, giving me some hope that at least a few words of it would get into the final 4-minute report. No such luck.
In the aired report NPR gave Planned Parenthood three direct quotes, while I only got one –and not anything dealing with the victim unborn babies. My quote, unmoored from the source (Justice Anthony Kennedy), said that good public policy required that what really takes place in these abortions not be obscured. NPR then ignored that admonishment and refused to clarify what exactly does happen during dismemberment abortion!
Also withheld by Klibanoff, or her editor, was the information that at least two pro-choice Supreme Court justices (former justice John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) had admitted that partial-birth and D&E /dismemberment abortion methods were equally brutal– not to oppose either but to make the case that if the state had an interest in preventing one, it also did in preventing the other. The partial-birth abortion method is banned nationwide and banning dismemberment abortions is long since past due.
Other errors in the NPR report were incorrect assertions:
- that there is no alternative abortion method to dismembering a live unborn child, and
- that the ban violates a Supreme Court viability standard. That so-called standard didn’t apply to the partial-birth abortion ban in 2007 when the Court upheld the ban on that method of abortion regardless of viability and it shouldn’t apply to this method either.
NPR ’s storyline was shaped to advance abortion interests just as Shaw described 25 years ago, with comments from a pro-abortion law “expert” and Planned Parenthood stitched together to portray a meme of unfairness to women. The NPR listener heard repeatedly that dismemberment abortion is “common,” “safest,” and “medically-sound,” and how “astonishing” it is that the legislature would “override medical science.”
The Los Angeles Times editorial riffed off of that NPR viewpoint, following up last week’s New York Times slam of the dismemberment ban. Both newspapers want the ban struck down; no surprise there.
Not needing to fake the “neutrality” of NPR news, the Los Angeles Times editorialist grabbed the soapbox, but didn’t have the guts to quote the entire legal definition of dismemberment. Excluded was the essential language about “the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments [that], slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”
And while whining about the “drama” of the bill, they ginned up their own drama. They portrayed women as relying on such abortions due to possible fetal disability, miscalculated gestation, or maternal health problems –while deliberately not mentioning that other abortion methods remain available, and that the law has exceptions for protecting maternal health and life.
Then there’s the gratuitous swipe at unborn children, in case readers have somehow learned what this inhumane abortion does to a well-developing baby. The editorial insists that dismemberment abortions are done to “fetuses that are not viable outside the womb and that scientists agree cannot feel pain,” regardless of “the unscientific claims of some anti-abortion groups.” (P.S. With fetal anesthesiology a bona fide medical specialty, how long can fetal pain deniers hold sway?)
Finally, copying a page from abortion guru David Grimes’ recent columns on dismemberment (which I’ve critiqued several times), the reader is advised to, in essence, ‘chill out’ because a D&E/ dismemberment is just an unsavory ‘tissue removal like a mastectomy.’ (See, for example, here.)
The media top dogs are certainly collaborating with the abortion agenda, but, despite this–as NPR grudgingly admitted–pro-lifers, “are winning in the court of public opinion.”