'A Nation's Rising Walls': NY Times Suddenly Finds (Pro-Life) Sanctuary Cities a Problem

March 5th, 2020 7:35 PM

Suddenly, “sanctuary cities” are a problem worthy of front-page coverage in The New York Times — but only if they are pro-life places opposed to abortion clinics. Reporter Dionne Searcey made Wednesday’s front page with her report keyed to a city council meeting in Texas: "‘Sanctuary Cities’ for Unborn Reflect a Nation’s Rising Walls”:

No one was trying to build an abortion clinic in the Texas community of Lindale, population 6,000. But they wanted to keep it that way.

Persuaded by a shaggy-haired pastor in a backward baseball cap, a dozen other Texas communities already had passed measures prohibiting abortion within their borders.

Legal scholars call the efforts unconstitutional, and some critics have sued. But that hasn’t curtailed Mark Dickson, the pastor, and a director for the Right to Life East Texas.

Note the hostile word choice throughout:

Sanctuary cities for the unborn are the latest way some American communities are attempting to wall themselves off from rules they disagree with, laws imposed by higher authorities that do not match their values.

It’s a tactic embraced by both ends of America’s political spectrum: Some cities have become so-called sanctuaries from immigration crackdowns and, elsewhere, from stricter gun laws.

The new local actions on abortion are playing out as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a case that thrusts abortion, one of America’s most divisive issues, into the middle of the presidential campaign.

Previously, the paper wrote in support of illegal immigrant "sanctuary cities," and freaked out about states insisting those municipalities enforce federal law.  Yet when it comes to the new right-wing versions (gun rights and abortion opposition), The Times suddenly recognizes that many consider “sanctuary cities” illegal or unconstitutional: “Many opponents of sanctuary cities of either kind say they are illegal.”

Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak also covered June Medical Services v. Russo, placing his emphasis and sympathy wholly on the pro-abortion side.

Kathaleen Pittman, the director of the Hope Medical Group for Women, remembers when there were 11 abortion clinics in Louisiana. Now there are only three, hers among them. Soon, depending on how the Supreme Court rules in a case to be argued on Wednesday, there may be just one, in New Orleans, more than 300 miles away....

Yet Liptak’s interview with an abortion seeker might not have been the home run he expected.

“I did get an ultrasound, and they asked me if I wanted to see it or not,” she said. “I chose not to.”

As for the waiting period, she said, “for me it was OK.” She and her boyfriend, she said, “needed some time to really think about it, to really make sure that this is what we have to do.”

Sympathy was only offered for one side:

At the clinic, Ms. Pittman said she was sometimes on the verge of despair. After the election of Mr. Trump and his appointment of two justices, she said, opponents of abortion have a new energy and resolve.