The Washington Post reported yesterday on A-6 that the Food and Drug Administration announced two more women have died from infections after using the RU-486 abortion drug cocktail. Marc Kaufmann's story offered some balance, pairing Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood with Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:
In this week's Live Chat on the Newsweek website, Howard Fineman came online to chat about the pro-life trend in South Dakota and how that might affect the Republicans. (Their answer: it will hurt them.) Fineman seemed to be having a fine time, claiming "I'm glad to be doing one again. I always learn a lot doing them. As Newsweek's chief political correspondent, I can't do my job by hunkering down inside the Beltway, either literally or digitally." But it wasn't long before the hunkering down occurred:
A new law in South Dakota outlawing most abortions is the apparent trigger for Friday’s laudatory New York Times “Public Lives” profile by Robin Finn of new Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards (“Anti-Abortion Advocates? Bring ‘Em On, Texan Says”).
Clay Waters told me I had to look at Dawn Eden's latest post on a discussion she had with a British reporter friend (apparently Harry Mount of the London Telegraph) about a story he was doing from South Dakota on abortion. The article's aerobically slanted (that is, the reporter worked so hard to be biased that he must have been winded). I love this part:
A telephone tipster made a very interesting point to us today about The Washington Post. In the midst of their coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and a Vermont campaign-finance limit case, the Post found no room Wednesday for the pro-life win in NOW v. Scheidler. (That's the case where NOW tried to have clinic protesters charged under a mob-racketeering statute.) The Post could argue that the case is a bit of a rerun: the court dismissed it in 2003, only to have a federal judge keep the case alive like a zombie.
Reality Check for 'Roe'
Anyone who thinks Fox News goes too easy on Republicans would have to think twice after watching Chris Wallace's rugged cross-examination of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on this morning's 'Fox News Sunday.' Wallace cornered and confronted Romney until he was eventually forced to admit that his position on abortion had "evolved" in a manner that suggests political opportunism.
Following up on Brent Baker’s earlier posting on this topic, the networks are not the only ones reluctant to apply the term "partial-birth abortion" in reporting on the Supreme Court decision to review whether a federal law banning the procedure is constitutional. Shortly before 10:30pm on the February 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, substitute host John King discussed the issue with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. The term "partial birth" was referred to only twice in the segment by King, who made sure to note that it was a term used by "critics" of the procedure.
Toobin, for his part, fretted that the partial-birth abortion ban, along with parental notification laws, was part of a strategy from "pro-life forces" to "chip away" at the, apparently set in stone "right" to abortion. To Toobin’s credit, he did mention the popular support for these "later-term abortion restrictions" by the American public.
Jeffrey Toobin: "This is part of a strategy that the pro-life forces have followed for many years, which is that chip away at the right, parental consent laws, later-term abortion restrictions. That’s been effective and the Court has–it is also politically much more popular than regulating early-term abortions. These, these laws, like later-term abortion restrictions, are pretty popular with the public."
A full transcript of the exchange is behind the cut.
Schieffer introduced the CBS Evening News coverage, with a “Late-Term Abortion” graphic over his shoulder: “The court agreed today to consider the constitutionality of the ban that Congress imposed on a kind of late-term abortion that critics call partial-birth abortion.” In his top of the broadcast tease from Torino, NBC anchor Brian Williams asked: “Can the federal government outlaw late-term abortions?" He soon awkwardly offered this description: “A late term abortion procedure that opponents of it call 'partial-birth abortion.'” Yes, he said “of it call.” Reporter Pete Williams cited "what opponents call partial-birth abortion." Over on ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas wasn't so awkward as she stuck to the simpler “so-called partial-birth abortion” verbiage. ABC reporter Jake Tapper at least folded in a description as he delineated what occurs: “The law in question is President Bush's ban on certain procedures where the fetus is at least partially removed from the womb before its aborted.” (Transcript of CBS follows)