ABC Omits Jane Russell's Pro-Life Views, Cites Her 'Back Alley Abortion'

On Tuesday's World News, ABC's David Wright highlighted actress Jane Russell's "botched back-alley abortion in high school," which led her to push "hard to expand adoption," but he failed to mention that she described herself as "vigorously pro-life," and that she was a conservative activist.

Wright's report aired at the end of the evening news program. The correspondent spent most of the segment on Russell's movie career, specifically her roles in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "The Outlaw." Near the end, however, Wright noted that the actress was "also politically active," and continued with the abortion issue: "She wrote in her memoirs that a botched back-alley abortion in high school left her unable to have children. Throughout her life, she fought hard to expand adoption."

Michael Thurston of Agencee France-Presse took a similar path in his Tuesday report on the movie star, but more explicitly noted that Russell was not only pro-life, but also a conservative:

Jane Russell, Actress; screen cap from movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," as clipped by ABC's World News | NewsBusters.org...In famously liberal Hollywood, and despite her sex symbol image, she was a rare defender of Christian and Republican values.

Russell described herself as vigorously pro-life, after having undergone a botched abortion at 18 that left her unable to have children. She and her first husband, American footballer Bob Waterfield, adopted three children.

In the 1950s, she founded the World Adoption International Fund to help match families with children at a time when adopting foreign children was uncommon in the United States.

"I was born to be married. A family life helps everything, and also my belief in Jesus," she told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper in a 2007 interview.

She jokingly told Christianity Today in 2009 that she could be described as "a mean-spirited right-wing conservative Christian bigot."

"I'm not bigoted about race at all, I am bigoted about those idiots that are trying to take the Ten Commandments off the wall (in courtrooms), the Bible out of school, and prayer even out of football games."

The AP's obituary for Russell ended by mentioning that "in lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in her name to either the Care Net Pregnancy and Resource Center of Santa Maria or the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County." Care Net is a national network of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog also highlighted that the actress participated in a panel discussion at CPAC in 2003.

It's not surprising, given how Wright fretted earlier in 2011 that the crowds at a gun show consisted of customers, not protesters, in the wake of the shootings in Tucson, that he would omit these details about Jane Russell.

The full transcript of David Wright's report from Tuesday's World News:

DIANE SAWYER: And finally tonight, the secret side of a sensational icon, one of America's first pinup girls. Actress Jane Russell died yesterday at the age of 89, and David Wright learned more about her real life.

JANE RUSSELL (singing, taken from the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"): Bye-bye baby, remember you're my baby when-

DAVID WRIGHT (voice-over): 'Gentlemen prefer blonds,' except when the brunette is a bombshell.

RUSSELL (singing): I'm not in condition to wrestle-

WRIGHT: Jane Russell was that and then some-

RUSSELL: I like a man who can run faster than I can.

WRIGHT: Well-able to hold her own opposite Marilyn Monroe, the two got their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame side-by-side the same day. Jane Russell was a preacher's daughter, who, for years, led a Bible study group here in Hollywood. And yet-

RUSSELL (taken from the movie "The Outlaw") Billy, you mustn't. You'll hurt yourself.

WRIGHT: She was also 'mean, moody and magnificent,' the tagline for her role in 'The Outlaw,' a picture so racy, the censors banned it for two years. The movie's director, billionaire Howard Hughes, famously used his knowledge of fuselage engineering to design a bra for her.

RUSSELL (from 1989 BBC interview): It was a contraption, you know, and it was not comfortable and it was not wearable at the time. So, I just wore my own bra.

WRIGHT: After her acting career ended, she marketed herself as an expert on the topic.

RUSSELL (from TV commercial): You've got to try the Jane Russell bra.

WRIGHT: She was also politically active. She wrote in her memoirs that a botched back-alley abortion in high school left her unable to have children. Throughout her life, she fought hard to expand adoption. And, she kept performing in supper clubs until the very end.


RUSSELL (singing, from YouTube video): With my baby by and by

WRIGHT: But her fans will always remember her when-

RUSSELL (singing, taken from the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"): With my baby by and by

WRIGHT: David Wright, ABC News, Hollywood.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center