WashPost Columnist Rips at Liberal Media Caricature of 'Virtuous' Abortion Doctors, 'Unhinged' Opponents
It's a little surprising that The Washington Post's "She the People" blogger/columnist Melinda Henneberger would suggest a former New York Times colleague (Frank Bruni) may have bought an implausibly formulaic story from an abortion doctor friend about a rabid pro-lifer getting an abortion in the same clinic she protested. She noted even the lefty gossip site Gawker is failing Bruni on this story, mercilessly noting how many times this urban legend has been regurgitated. (Conservative bloggers, including our Clay Waters, were also on this.)
It's more shocking that Henneberger called out the entire liberal media establishment for being closed-minded and propagandistic: "Speaking of preconceived notions, however, my beef is that those who oppose abortion are routinely depicted as some combo of unhinged and hypocritical, and abortion providers as virtuous and brave. Doesn’t this neat delineation ever strike writers who on other topics gravitate to texture and complexity as quite the coincidence? " This is a must-read:
Nope, so even when the news of an abortion doctor who is most certainly not up for secular canonization gets out, it’s barely mentioned outside right-to-life or church media.
On TIME’s “most influential” list, let’s see, there’s Cecile Richards, and Sandra Fluke and, oh, on the other side of that lobbying and advocacy coin, nobody.
The one-note coverage isn’t seen as that, of course. Take the abortion documentary ‘12th and Delaware,’ which came out a couple of years ago. It chronicles, on one side of a street in Fort Pierce, Fla., the hoot-owl crazy goings-on at a Catholic crisis pregnancy center, where volunteers lie, bribe, stalk, and perhaps most appallingly, tell one poor girl that maybe her abusive boyfriend will lighten up if she has his baby.
On the other side of the street, we meet the warm, nurturing grandparents who run an abortion clinic, and only want what’s best for their clients. The movie, which was shown on HBO, was a well-done piece with a point of view. But what bothered me was that it was hailed first and foremost as being uncommonly even-handed, with equal appeal to those on all sides.
No matter how we feel about abortion, we’re repeatedly told, we are just gonna love that our most fringe representatives are allowed to speak for us! Only, we don’t.
We, huh? Yes, though I’m not for re-criminalizing abortion, I am for re-thinking it. (Which won’t, in my view, ever be accomplished through shaming, punishment, or chasing pregnant women around with trans-vaginal probes.)
My only judgment on those who feel otherwise – as most people I know do — is that we just don’t see this one the same way. This is certainly not a partisan perspective; as someone who doesn’t think corporations are people but does think unborn children are, I don’t really have one of those. I do, though, hope the day will come when we will look back on both capital punishment and abortion as we now look back on slavery – as a wrong so culturally accepted we couldn’t see it at the time.
“Choice” is predicated on the idea that life is complicated, full of contradictions and moral gray area, and that’s all true enough. But views on this issue aren’t so cut and dried, either, and neither are those who hold them. Which, I’m sorry to say, you’d never know from reading the news.
Here's how Henneberger tried to spare Bruni complete blame for buying the protester-gets-abortion tale:
Now, people change their minds about this issue all the time, in both directions, and it’s no stretch at all to imagine that a protester could become a patient, or vice versa. But isn’t it odd that every one of these antiabortion activists is so dim that she never thinks perhaps she’d best seek her abortion at a clinic other than the one where she yells “whore” and “murderer” all day every day?’ Alas, no.
I don’t bring any of this up to question the ethics or motives behind the column written by Bruni, a talented former colleague and complete professional; no way would he have piped the thing. We all have our blind spots, however, and the former classmate he once shunned may have embellished the tale, either to impress or ingratiate himself – he also told Bruni that meeting him, a gay man who didn’t conform to his preconceived notions, was one of the experiences that had set him on the path to enlightenment and Erasmus. Or maybe he just wanted to get back at him. (Who is it again who believes everything he’s told?)