Reagan-Hating Abortion Activist Hailed in NYT as Fighter for Right of Women 'to Control Their Own Bodies'

The obituary in Sunday's New York Times of an abortion activist followed the paper's standard liberal template of obfuscation when discussing unpopular liberal stands on social issues: "Joan Dunlop, 78, Advocate for Women’s Health Rights." The text box read: "A life spent helping women expand control of their bodies." Including abortion. Yet although the Reagan-hating Joan Dunlop worked for the nation's largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood, the headline and text box avoided the word.

Reporter Douglas Martin also avoided stating "abortion" until paragraph seven, emphasizing other aspects of Dunlop's career:

Joan Dunlop, a global leader in addressing women’s issues who helped prod the United Nations to define a woman’s right to say no to sex as an essential human right, died on Friday at her home in Lakeville, Conn. She was 78....Ms. Dunlop devoted herself to expanding women’s rights to control their own bodies. The right to say no to a request for sex was endorsed as a universal guideline by more than 180 nations at a conference in Beijing in 1995. Ms. Dunlop lobbied the delegates as president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, an advocacy group that supports 50 health projects in eight countries. She held the post from 1984 to 1998.


Ms. Dunlop had an illegal abortion as a young woman in England, an experience that fueled her campaign to improve women’s reproductive choices, she said. She was also angry at the rise of the anti-abortion movement in the United States, which she perceived as “an organizing tool” for conservatives promoting their broader political agenda.

“It’s about getting people onto the street,” she said in a 2004 oral history. “It’s getting political activism for a much broader purpose.”

She often directly attacked the Vatican and conservative politicians, including President Ronald Reagan, on the abortion issue.

TimesWatch Abortion New York Times Joan Dunlop Douglas Martin
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