No Pro-Life Space As NPR Celebrates India's 'Haven In a Land of Unsafe Abortions'

All of the hallmarks of National Public Radio – the cosmopolitanism and the sexual progressivism – come together in the subject of abortions worldwide.

On New Year’s Eve, NPR.org posted a photographer’s record celebrating an abortion clinic in a primitive part of eastern India, titled “A Haven In A Land Of Unsafe Abortions.”

NPR sent documentary photographer Poulomi Basu to spend time at the clinic in Khunti for a window into the world of legal and safe abortion in this remote part of India. Palo Khoya agreed to be photographed during her visit. It may be hard for a Westerner to understand why she was willing to be photographed at such intimate moments, in a country where people say nasty things about women who have abortions. Her doctor, Simi Mahesh, explains that there is a bond between doctor and patient: "They do trust me, and that could be a reason." That trust would extend to the photographer who is working with the doctor.

A caption reads: “Dr. Mahesh prepares to carry out an abortion for Palo Khoya. ‘They just come because they don't want to continue the pregnancy,’ the doctor says. ‘They’re not bothered whether it’s legal or not legal. But we're doing awareness campaigns to tell them it’s legal, it’s not wrong, to get rid of the stigma attached to it.’”

As for those who believe in a stigma attached to baby-killing? NPR has no time or space for an anti-abortion viewpoint, despite being subsidized by many pro-life American taxpayers.

This matched a one-sided NPR report on the October 2 edition of All Things Considered, centered in the same remote village, starring the same abortionist. Online, it was headlined “Abortion In India Is Legal Yet Women Are Still Dying.”

RACHEL MARTIN: India was one of the first countries to legalize abortion. That was in 1971. Making abortions legal in India and providing them in government-regulated clinics has decreased the risk to women seeking abortions. But in much of the country, women don't have access to those clinics.

ROBERT SIEGEL: As a result, the country has one of the highest rates of death due to unsafe abortions. It's estimated that every two hours a woman dies from abortion-related complications. And for every woman who dies, 20 more develop lifelong health problems.

Reporter Rhitu Chatterjee explained that Indian women often use a dai or midwife who “does abortions using roots or herbs or...aggressive abdominal massages with leaves and hot oils.” According to NPR and abortion advocates everywhere, they need better science at baby-expulsion time:

RHITU CHATTERJEE: When women don't know that abortion is legal and when they're too poor to get private health care, they have few options. But there's another reason behind India's abortion woes, Manning says -- a deeper, cultural reason.

VINOJ MANNING: Anything about sex and sexuality is stigmatized. We don't even talk about it within our homes. And when it comes to abortion, it is even more stigmatized.

RHITU CHATTERJEE: Now, abortion is not a political issue in India like it is in the United States. But in rural areas it is considered wrong because a woman's main role is still seen as a child bearer. As a result, women are discreet and secretive about getting an abortion. That's what Manning and his colleagues found in a recent study they did involving nearly 400 women who had been treated for complications from unsafe abortions.

VINOJ MANNING: They just didn't want to talk about it. They hoped that could resolve the - what they considered a problem at home, without people knowing about it, without families knowing about it.

RHITU CHATTERJEE: This culture of silence and secrecy also prevents people from openly discussing the issue.

SIMMI MAHESH: Speaking about abortion was a sin.

RHITU CHATTERJEE: That's Dr. Simmi Mahesh, the physician at the reproductive health clinic in Khunti, Jharkhand. She says that's why her organization, the Family Planning Association of India has been running education programs in nearby villages.

SIMMI MAHESH: We used to tell in our programs, no, we are not promoting abortions. We are promoting safe abortions. If a woman wants to go for an abortion, she should go to a safe, certified place by a certified doctor.

Whether it's India or America, NPR is spreading the transparently silly talking point that promoting a "safe abortion" is not promoting an abortion -- without offering five seconds of opposition.

 

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