Re: Ken Shepherd on Ceci Connolly

Ken Shepherd noted that the front page of Monday's WashPost carried a story with the headline "Access to Abortion Pared at State Level." But I had a different take on reporter Ceci Connolly's piece. It begins: "This year's state legislative season draws to a close having produced a near-record number of laws imposing new restrictions on a woman's access to abortion or contraception." This language of danger to "women's access" sounds like abortion-advocate wording.

The question that emerges: is every pro-life measure a "restriction"? The third paragraph begins: "Three states have passed bills requiring that women seeking an abortion be warned that the fetus will feel pain, despite inconclusive scientific data on the question." Does an informed-consent rule really qualify as a restriction? The Post isn't going to call it what is really is: a restriction on an abortion clinic's ability to persuade women to buy what it's selling.

There's a lot of talk of parental notification and consent requirements in the story, which are restrictions, but then the question: is a 12-year-old girl a "woman"? (Ceci also cites the Alan Guttmacher Institute as a main source for the story, without noting it's an arm of Planned Parenthood.) She also includes in this "restrictions" story new bills recognizing the "fetus" as a human being under assault and murder laws, which again in no way "restrict" women's "access" to abortion.

Near the end of Ceci's story comes this passage: "Not all the restrictive measures came from Republican-controlled states. Democratic governors in Kansas and Pennsylvania signed budgets that steer millions of dollars to organizations that provide alternatives to abortion." Now how on Earth does that qualify as a "restriction" to women's "access"? It allows women to seek alternatives, if that's where they want to go. Once again, it is only a "restriction" on abortion clinic business, in that it might attract women away from an abortion. I don't think the Post would argue that funding anti-smoking programs is a "restriction" on smoking.

Media critics can have an honest debate about terminology in abortion stories, and some may not want to use terms like "partial-birth abortion" or "pro-life." But in this case, the language the Post uses is so eager to please abortion advocates that it's just plain inaccurate.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis