CNN co-anchor Don Lemon, during a brief report on Tuesday’s Newsroom program about a pro-life measure on the ballot in South Dakota that would greatly restrict abortion, gave only the pro-choice side of the debate over the proposed law. He also oversimplified Barack Obama’s stance on the abortion issue.
Lemon stated how the Great Plains state "is becoming a new focal point in the abortion debate" due to the measure, which is called Initiated Measure 11. He then introduced the sole sound bite from a Planned Parenthood official: "Opponents say it would be one of the most rigid and inflexible bans in the country. They worry about the impact it could have on Roe vs. Wade."
During the sound bite, Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota argued, "Nowhere in America is abortion harder to access than in the state of South Dakota, and while South Dakota accounts for only 0.1 percent of abortions nationwide, it has a potentially disproportionate, powerful effect on public policy in our country, because of the attempts in South Dakota to create a vehicle to overturn Roe vs. Wade."
After reporting how "South Dakotans rejected a stricter law banning abortions in their state" in the 2006 election, Lemon devoted the second half of the report to an all-too-brief outline of the positions of Barack Obama and John McCain on "abortion rights" (as the graphic at right put it):
LEMON: The abortion issue isn't at the top of the list of voter concerns this year, but it’s still a big emotional issue that matters to a lot of Americans. Here's where the two major presidential candidates stand on this issue.
Democrat Barack Obama is against any constitutional amendment to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Now, Republican John McCain says it must be overturned.
Obama disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. McCain supports the high court's decision.
Lemon omitted one key component to Obama’s plank on abortion -- his extreme position during his time in the Illinois State Senate concerning a proposal which would have protected infants who were born alive after surviving abortion attempts. During four votes on the Illinois Born-Alive Infant Protection Act in 2001 and 2002, Obama voted against the legislation three times. He voted "present" the other time. CNN’s Carol Costello omitted two of these votes by Obama during a report in July.
During that report, Costello repeated how Obama claimed at the time that "the Illinois Born-Alive Infant Protection Act would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child.’ In other words, Obama says now it ‘lacked the federal language clarifying the act would not be used to undermine Roe v. Wade.’" On Monday, the National Right-to-Life Committee released documentation that demonstrated that Obama had in fact voted against a Illinois state measure that had this "federal language" when it came before the health committee he chaired in 2003 (a detail that had gone largely unnoticed before). The NRLC release was picked up by Jill Stanek, a central figure to this issue, on her blog, and it spread like wildfire all over the conservative blogs. So far, only a fews mainstream media outlets, such as The Politico, have picked up on the story. One wonders when CNN will get around to mentioning these details.