Pew's 'Stateline' Pushes Alarmist Message on Texas Abortion Law; Reuters, by Contrast, Gives Readers Nuance

"New state restrictions on clinics that provide abortions could leave millions of women -- many of them poor and uninsured -- without easy access to cancer screenings and other basic health care services," worried Jake Grovum of the Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline news agency in his heavily-slanted July 24 piece at USAToday.com headlined "Anti-abortion measures may hit women's health care." Grovum quoted two foes of abortion regulation laws -- making sure to give one of them the last word in his 16 paragraph story. By contrast, he cited just one pro-life proponent of clinic regulation, Alabama State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin.

But aside from the article's imbalance and the all-too-common meme that women only have abortion clinics to turn to for free or low-cost health care -- patently untrue as we've noted time and again -- Grovum's article was off-base for suggesting that abortion clinics will become an endangered species in states which regulate them. By contrast, as Lisa Maria Garza of Reuters explained in her July 18 story, "Why many abortion clinics in Texas may stay open despite new law," abortion-rights advocates who study changes in abortion laws for a living admit that clinic closures might not be a widespread as feared by the Wendy Davis-types in the pro-choice lobby (emphasis mine):


Most of the Texas clinics that abortion rights advocates predict will close because of a new law requiring tighter health and safety standards likely will remain open - at least if history is any guide.

[...]

In Texas, Planned Parenthood announced on Thursday that it was closing one of its 13 abortion clinics that provide abortions, citing the new law. The nation's largest abortion provider said the rules could force all but a handful of the 42 abortion facilities in Texas to close down.

But similar warnings in other states have not come to pass.

Twenty-six states have laws that require abortion clinics to meet varying levels of hospital standards, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Pennsylvania, Virginia and Missouri passed strict health and safety rules similar to Texas, it said.

In those three states, however, most clinics were able to stay open after the laws passed, some by reallocating dollars to comply with building upgrades, according to abortion providers and state health department officials interviewed by Reuters.

"It seems like an exaggeration from the other side that access is going to be cut off," said Mallory Quigley, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony list.

Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights but does research cited by both sides, said the new law will have an impact in Texas but maybe less than the worst fears.

"Clinics will close," she said. "But I can't say we are going to go down to six."

Of the 24 clinics in Pennsylvania prior to a tough new law in 2011, one closed voluntarily, according to the state health department. The state closed two others for serious violations including a freezer lined with frozen blood, and stained surgical instruments in dirty drawers, according to reports by state inspectors.

Two others were consolidated into a third clinic but maintained the same level of service to women as before, said Dr. W. Allen Hogge, chair of the Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

All of the remaining 19 clinics are in compliance, said Pennsylvania health department spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk.

Again, and this bears repeating, this isn't pro-life activists making this argument so much as the pro-abortion rights study group, the Guttmacher Institute.

Kudos to Garza and Reuters for relaying this information to readers. By contrast, Grovum has a lot of work to do to catch up to his employer's stated promise to readers of offering "editorially independent, nonpartisan... reporting and analysis on trends in state policy."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters