Nets Hype Supreme Court Halting Louisiana Abortion Regulations, Ignored Extreme New York Law

On Friday, all three network morning shows eagerly touted the Supreme Court temporarily blocking a Louisiana law set to go into effect that would require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. The same hosts and correspondents that breathlessly hyped the “big story” completely ignored an extreme late-term abortion law being passed in New York State just two weeks ago.

“Breaking overnight, the major Supreme Court decision. Chief Justice Roberts casting a surprise vote siding with his liberal colleagues,” fill-in co-host Cecilia Vega excitedly proclaimed at the top of ABC’s Good Morning America. Promoting the “breaking Supreme Court news” minutes later, during a 41-second news brief, Vega again emphasized the “surprise vote” by Roberts and highlighted liberal criticism of the Louisiana law:

The move temporarily stops the state from enforcing new regulations that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. This is a rule that critics say would force the closure of one or two of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics.

 

 

Following the brief, fellow co-host George Stephanopoulos enthusiastically predicted: “This only stopping it temporarily, they’re likely to take on the bigger case. That’ll be a blockbuster case next term.”

CBS This Morning devoted the most time to the story, offering a full report totaling 1 minute 31 seconds. Co-host Norah O’Donnell began the segment by announcing:

And another big story this morning, the Supreme Court has blocked a controversial abortion law just hours before it was to go into effect. It was a 5 to 4 vote last night that temporarily blocked the Louisiana law that critics say would force two of the state’s three abortion clinics to close.

Reporting from the Supreme Court steps, correspondent Jan Crawford framed the case this way: “I mean, obviously, this could be the first test of abortion rights in the Supreme Court with new conservative justices.” The reporter added: “But last night, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals in this case to stop the law from taking effect while the court considers whether it’s going to take up this case.”

While ABC, CBS, and NBC prioritized coverage of the high court blocking a “controversial” law aimed at regulating abortion, with a total of 2 minutes 42 seconds of air time, the same networks couldn’t be bothered to make one mention of New York State implementing a radical pro-abortion law in January.

A temporary hold on a law that seeks to place reasonable medical regulations on abortion gets immediate coverage, while a policy that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan labeled a “ghoulish radical abortion-expansion law” simply isn’t news.

Here is a full transcript of the February 8 report on CBS This Morning:

7:12 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: And another big story this morning, the Supreme Court has blocked a controversial abortion law just hours before it was to go into effect. It was a 5 to 4 vote last night that temporarily blocked the Louisiana law that critics say would force two of the state’s three abortion clinics to close. Jan Crawford is at the Supreme Court with how the order unfolded. Jan, it’s always great to have you on a morning like this, on such an important case. Tell us how it went down.

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, thanks, Norah, and good morning. I mean, obviously, this could be the first test of abortion rights in the Supreme Court with new conservative justices. It involves a 2014 Louisiana law that required abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Now, in 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical law from Texas on a 5-3 vote. But last night, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals in this case to stop the law from taking effect while the court considers whether it’s going to take up this case. The court’s four conservative justices, including new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, dissented. Justice Kavanaugh wrote separately to say he would allow the law to take effect for now, but he could be willing to rethink it if it showed it had that undue burden on a woman’s right to get an abortion.

Now, this, like you said, is just temporary. It may not tell us much of anything about how the court’s going to approach abortion rights. The justices still have to decide whether they’re going to hear this case. They could do so next fall. John?

JOHN DICKERSON: Jan, thank you so much for breaking it down for us.

Here is a full transcript of the news brief on ABC’s Good Morning America:

7:10 AM ET

CECILIA VEGA: We do want to turn now to that breaking Supreme Court news. Chief Justice John Roberts casting that surprise vote overnight in a Louisiana abortion case, siding with his liberal colleagues. The move temporarily stops the state from enforcing new regulations that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. This is a rule that critics say would force the closure of one or two of Louisiana’s three abortion clinics. The newest Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote the dissenting opinion and this is the first significant order on abortion since Kavanaugh joined that bench. A lot of eyes on that one.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, first thing we’re seeing. This only stopping it temporarily, they’re likely to take on the bigger case. That’ll be a blockbuster case next term.

VEGA: Exactly.

Here is a full transcript of the news brief on NBC’s Today show:

7:31 AM ET

HODA KOTB: The Supreme Court has weighed in on its most significant abortion case since conservative Brett Kavanaugh joined the court. By a 5-4 vote, the court blocked Louisiana from enforcing new restrictions on abortion clinics. The rules require providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Women’s groups say that would leave the state with only one doctor who’s allowed to perform abortions. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting the law on hold while it’s challenged in a lower court.

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