"This week's abortion conversation is about politics. Let's not pretend it's about anything else," Newsweek's Lisa Miller huffed in a November 18 Newsweek.com post, complaining about how the moral issues surrounding abortion are taking on a life of their own in the health care debate.
We suffer, this week, from a moral myopia. Thanks to the passage in Congress of a health-reform bill, abortion is in the news again, but with the same old warriors brandishing their same old spears.
But while Miller went on to list both pro-life and pro-choice "old warriors," it's hard to believe her beef is with both sides of that fight equally. Miller laments that:
Our entire health-care system (and the proposed reform) is rife with "complex moral issues." To activate our consciences only in the realm of abortion relieves those consciences of too much responsibility.
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin fretted in a column in the November 23, 2009 edition of The New Yorker that “abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized,” and even turned his ire on some in his left-wing camp, including President Obama. He accused “many modern pro-choice Democrats,” including the President, of ceding “the moral high ground” to pro-lifers.
Toobin began his “Not Covered” column by outlining the history of abortion, particularly in the U.S.: “Abortion is almost as old as childbirth. There has always been a need for some women to end their pregnancies. In modern times, the law’s attitude toward that need has varied....Throughout this long legal history, the one constant has been that women have continued to have abortions.” The analyst continued with his lament that the legalized murder of an unborn child isn’t more accepted, given the “constant” he had outlined: “It might be assumed that such a common procedure would be included in a nation’s plan to protect the health of its citizens. In fact, the story of abortion during the past decade has been its separation from other medical services available to women. Abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized.”
After airing what she described as a "hard-hitting" ad by the Center for Reproductive Rights which ominously warned, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have," MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman today lamented to Politico's Jeanne Cummings that with Sen. Ted Kennedy gone, Democrats lack a unifying figure who could defuse an abortion battle that could mar Democratic unity on health care reform.
Snyderman praised the late pro-choice politician as a "man of his church and of his faith" (MP3 audio here):
Well, now the Catholic Church is lobbying hard to get House language into the Senate bill and then hopefully get it passed. Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings wrote about this. And she joins me now.
The pesky thing about abortion for pro-choice stalwarts is that when it comes to the will of the people through their legislatures, they often lose more battles than when the voters in question are black-robed judges in a courtroom.
Just ask Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, who is bummed about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and its effect on the Democrats' hopes for a health care reform bill that puts in place a government-run health care "option" (emphasis mine):
When health-care reform passed the House by just two votes late Saturday night, I assumed Speaker Nancy Pelosi had several more votes in her pocket from Blue Dogs who would be there if she needed them. After all, that's how Washington works. I also figured I shouldn't get too worked up about the restrictive amendment on abortion that was added at the last minute because it would be stripped from the legislation when it went to conference and was merged with the Senate bill.
It took just a little reporting for me to discover how wrong my initial assessments were.... [D]itching the amendment advanced by pro-life Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak is unlikely.
On Thursday’s Countdown show, as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hosted fellow host Rachel Maddow to plug a segment on her show about pro-life Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak’s push to block any ObamaCare proposal that involves taxpayer funding of abortion, Maddow charged that Stupak was being "cowardly" in focusing his pro-life attention "targeting" poor women who "won’t fight back or can’t fight back because they don’t have the resources."
Maddow’s contention came as Olbermann – ignoring the political reality that not only does an individual Congressman have little if any influence in a President’s choice of Supreme Court nominees, but that even mustering a two-thirds vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade by constitutional amendment would be nearly impossible in any Congress, let alone an overwhelmingly Democratic one – tried to undermine Stupak’s moral authority on abortion by suggesting the Michigan Democrat was not willing to "fight that fight in the open."
"The clergy should stay off Capitol Hill," MSNBC's Chris Matthews flatly declared on the November 10 "Hardball." Matthews fumed with disgust as Politico's Jonathan Allen told him that Catholic bishops lobbied Democrats to pass the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care reform bill last week.
"I understand the [pro-life] argument" that the bishops brought to the table, Matthews added, but huffed that they should not "show up" on the Hill.
After the commercial break, Matthews took to the air again to clarify that it was not in fact bishops but staffers with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who lobbied the Democrats. Such a distinction, he insisted, was important.
Insisting that her opinion was not influenced by her views on abortion, MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman went on a tear shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST on her November 9 "Dr. Nancy" program, denouncing the "infuriating" Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care bill passed on Saturday.
As a consequence, women seeking to have insurance pay for abortion procedures under the would need to pay out-of-pocket for additional coverage for abortion procedures.
Snyderman hinted that she was annoyed that pro-life Democrats even thought it necessary to press for the Stupak Amendment in the first place. After all, Snyderman complained to MSNBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, she and her colleagues at MSNBC had done their level best for months to calm fears of pro-lifers about ObamaCare:
On Saturday’s Huckabee show on FNC, host Mike Huckabee interviewed the former executive director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan Texas, Abby Johnson, who became a pro-life activist after witnessing an ultrasound of an abortion while she assisted in a procedure. She charged that the abortion provider tries to "increase the number of abortions they do" for the purpose of making money, and described the emotional experience of watching an unborn baby at 13 weeks pregnancy "trying to get away" as its life was being ended. Video of the interview can be found here.
Johnson: "I saw the probe going into the woman's uterus. And at that moment, I saw the baby moving and trying to get away from the probe. ... And I thought, 'It's fighting for its life.' And I thought, 'It's life, I mean, it's alive.'"
Profits, not the killing of unborn children, are the "real immorality" of abortion, according to "View" panelist Joy Behar.
Behar expressed her unique view of morality during the Nov. 3 "Hot Topics" discussion about Abby Johnson, a Texas Planned Parenthood director who resigned from her post last month after seeing an abortion on an ultrasound.
Johnson explained to the local Texas CBS affiliate that Planned Parenthood had been pressuring her to focus on abortion, not pregnancy prevention because abortions brought in more money than family planning services.
ABC's "View" host Barbara Walters brought up Johnson's story, calling it "controversial" and Behar quickly denounced Planned Parenthood for making money off abortions. She called it "gross" and "obnoxious" before she stated, "I don't see abortions as a profit-making industry. I think that that is the real immorality of it."
Remember back in July when Norma McCorvey was arrested for disruptive behavior during the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor? Wait. Maybe not. The networks only gave her a few cursory seconds, if any. McCorvey is "Jane Roe," the plaintiff in the landmark Roe v Wade lawsuit, and the one-time pro-choicer was shouting for the verdict of her 1973 case to be overturned.
If that's all the notice given the most famous side-switcher in the abortion wars, there's little hope that we'll hear about Abby Johnson in the mainstream media. Johnson, a Planned Parenthood director in Texas, resigned October 6 after watching an ultrasound of an abortion procedure.
"I just thought I can't do this anymore," she said. "And it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it."
We'll have to wait and see if the so-called outside-the-box thinking once praised by some of liberal media elites will get the same reception with this latest edition.
In 2005, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner released the book "Freakonomics" that provided cover for the pro-abortion movement in America by suggesting legalized abortion lowered crime and had a positive impact on society.
The tactic of bashing Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk show hosts to score political points is apparently no longer the exclusive realm of national-level Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now, even local politicians are adopting this political maneuver in their local campaigns.
Democrat David Englin, member of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 45th District (and currently my own delegate), sent out a direct mail piece which I received on Thursday where Englin boldly proclaimed his opposition to the top conservative talk show host: “If Rush Limbaugh is for it, I’m probably against it.” (image at right).
Englin’s mail piece, paid for by the Democratic Party of Virginia, not only targeted Limbaugh, but on the reverse side, ripped Glenn Beck and all conservatives: “You and I know that our community’s progressive values are once again under attack. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their right-wing allies want to block progress on issues that matter. But we can’t let them. We have come too far and there is too much at stake to let the rhetoric of hate stop what we know is right.”
[Update, 12:30 am Eastern Saturday: Josh Brahm of the RLCC, mentioned below, contacted me and sent me the link to an edited video taken of the assault, which is imbedded at right (obscene language warning). -MB.]
Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com reported on Friday that a pro-life activist was assaulted on October 15 by a supporter of abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood in Fresno, California, during a vigil for the nationwide 40 Days for Life campaign. Ertelt also noted that local TV news outlets ignored the story of the assault in their evening broadcasts, brushing it aside either because the victim’s injury wasn’t serious enough, or because they thought a story on “chocolate-covered bacon” was more important.
Victor Fierro, director of Latinos4Life, a pro-life organization, was physically attacked by a “pro-choice woman,” according to the press release by Right to Life of Central California (RLCC), which was also cited in the LifeNews.com report. The woman “shouted obscenities” at the pro-life demonstrators participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil in front of the Planned Parenthood facility, “before attempting to break the event security camera and assaulting...Fierro....The attacker cut Fierro’s arm with an unknown object, drawing blood, and then stormed back to her car and fled the scene.” The entire incident was captured by the video camera, though most of the assault occurred outside of its field of vision. However, the camera did capture her face and her car’s tag number.
Rachel Campos-Duffy, former reality-TV star and current blogger for Anderson Cooper's AC360 blog, was Elizabeth Hasselbeck's fill-in on today's edition of The View. As a conservative fill-in, she did not disappoint.
Before diving into the meat of the blog, however, we at NewsBusters would like to congratulate her on this bit of news [emphasis mine]:
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: Thank you. And, yes, I found happiness after all. And the news is, because I've never come on "The View," as Joy knows, without announcing a pregnancy. And I am having a sixth child and I'm three months pregnant.
That is wonderful news - congratulations to her and her husband Sean.
Now, containing our pro-life glee for a moment, the Viewettes transitioned from a conversation about Campos-Duffy’s happy home life to a discussion of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win:
Last week the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to U.S. Senators about current health reform legislation. The USCCB has supported the goal of universal health coverage for decades, but the letter made clear that they do not yet support the Senate Finance Committee's bill because of concerns about affordability, coverage for immigrants, and financing for abortion. I'd like to focus on that last point, because I think it's here that the bishops may be moving the goalposts on what they can and cannot accept.
Sullivan lamented that the bishops are not accepting the word of the Obama administration as the gospel truth when it comes to abortion:
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Molly Henneberg filed a report relaying to viewers that a recently released Pew poll finds a continuing trend of pro-life sentiment gaining ground in public opinion in America. Last May, a Gallup poll showed a similar pro-life trend. After Baier introduced her report by observing that "popular support for abortion rights is on the decline," Henneberg began by relaying that, according to the poll, "fewer Americans than last year are comfortable with the idea of legal abortions in all or most cases."
In the news today, the President and Oprah attempt to snag the Olympics from Rio, a Congressman yells something dumb on the floor of the House (not a Republican!), and double standards abound.
Meanwhile, back on the Hill, there's a humble bill involving the entire health care system of the United States making its way through the Senate. Lawrence O'Donnell is not usually so honest and brazen about the liberal agenda as he was during this morning's appearance on MSNBC's “Morning Joe”, but one can certainly be thankful that he was.
According to O'Donnell, there are now three new tax brackets in this legislation, a new 35% tax rate on certain private health insurance plans, and half of the health care legislation now being debated is a massive new tax bill. O'Donnell made the following comparison:
Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com reported on Wednesday that former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will be the keynote speaker for a Planned Parenthood fundraising dinner in Minneapolis on October 13. The pro-abortion group, in its announcement for the event, made no secret that it thought highly of the liberal journalist: “Dan Rather, the voice, heart and soul of American journalism, is one of the most recognized and renowned reporters of our time.”
Rather is set to speak at Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota’s annual “Celebrate! Planned Parenthood” dinner at the Minneapolis Hilton. According to Ertelt, the former CBS anchor “ironically...is going to speak on the ‘new media.’” The LifeNews editor quoted from Scott Fischbach, the director of the pro-life group Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, who took Rather to task: “For years viewers watched Dan Rather deliver the news of the day believing he was objective and fair, while the whole time he harbored anti-life views....Clearly Dan Rather has never been objective, in fact his support of Planned Parenthood proves how radical his views truly are.”
On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Mara Schiavocampo filed a report based on her interview with video producer James O’Keefe, famous for his recently released video clips which exposed the willingness by a significant number of ACORN employees to give advice on breaking the law to O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp, and his friend Hannah Giles, who posed as an underage prostitute. But Schiavocampo also mentioned some of O’Keefe’s past work, including audio clips of Planned Parenthood employees reacting with indifference to the expression of racist views as O’Keefe posed as a potential donor to the abortion provider who requested that his donation go toward eliminating the birth of black children.
After relating that O'Keefe had gone from producing videos as pranks to targeting Planned Parenthood in what Schiavocampo referred to as "more outrageous political fare – like calling Planned Parenthood to see if they would accept donations to abort black babies," a clip of one such phone call was played:
AUDIO CLIP OF O’KEEFE SPEAKING TO A PLANNED PARENTHOOD EMPLOYEE BY PHONE: There's too many black people in Ohio, so I’m just trying to do my part.
Major newspapers and networks have been ignoring the question of abortion coverage in the new health care bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. The only newspapers to even mention abortion coverage since the bill was released on September 16 were The Boston Globe, The Oregonian, and The Orlando Sentinel - all of which were editorials.
The Boston Globe only mentioned in passing that the funding of abortion was scratched in order to please the Republicans, who refuse to be pleased anyway. The Oregonian admitted that abortion was funded in the bill but concluded that "being a citizen means paying taxes, and being one of hundreds of millions of citizens means that some tax revenues will fund something you don't like." And The Orlando Sentinel stated that the "truth" behind Republicans "right-wing anti-Obama rhetoric" against abortion is simply "cowardly coded smoke screens intended to mask fear and racism."
It's standard journalistic practice to put the most important information at the very beginning of an article. For ABC News, it appeared the most pertinent facts about Irene Vilar, a woman who had 15 abortions in 16 years, were her fears about how pro-life activists would receive her new book, "Impossible Motherhood."
ABC reporter Susan Donaldson James perpetuated the myth of raging pro-life activists in her September 21 article about Vilar. Her lede read, "Irene Vilar worries that her self-described ‘abortion addiction' will be misunderstood, twisted by the pro-life movement to deny women the right to choose." Vilar, now a mother of two, told ABC, "no book like this has ever been written. I just imagine the ‘baby killer' and I could be a poster child for that kind of fundamentalism. And there are my little kids in all of that."
Vilar told Donaldson James, "she has already sensed ‘an inkling of hatred," a point noted in the third paragraph. By the fourth, Donaldson James had described the precautions taken by Vilar and her husband.
The United States has been called a bailout nation, following the passage of TARP in 2008 and the government takeover of the auto industry earlier this year. However, that may ring true in other, more controversial areas, as well.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J, took President Barack Obama and proponents of his style of health care reform, along with the news media that cover the issue, to task, in a video posted on Sept. 21. He explained to the Washington News Observer the bill would do harm to sick people and called it the worst bill he had seen as a member of the U.S. Congress.
"Well, the Republicans are very clearly standing against bogus health care reform - that which will do grave injury to those who are very sick, those with cancers, unborn children and their mothers," Smith said. "This is I think the worst piece of legislation that I have seen in my 29 years as a member of Congress."
In a Sunday "uh-oh" review of 2010's electoral landscape as it applies to nationwide congressional races, the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy insulted GOP voters while effectively implying that they are the only ones who oppose ObamaCare, "reckless spending, and high debt."
The foundation of Fouhy's piece is a fear that Democrats may be in peril of losing their House majority in 2010. Funny, when they were in the minority and gaining ground in national sentiment, I recall that the press meme was "Democrats Gaining!" Now that they're in control and faltering, it's "Democrats in Danger of Losing (Somebody Do Something)!" The perspective always seems to be about the rising or falling fortunes of Democrats, which of course serves to validate the contention of those who say that the establishment press is the mouthpiece of the Left and the Democratic Party.
Now let's look at Fouhy's infuriating fulminations (red underline is mine):
Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News on Friday omitted any mention of the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Michigan, despite having discussed the murder of abortionist George Tiller on the June 1, June 2 and June 9 newscasts (and then referencing the killing as a recent “hate crime” in a June 10 report on the shooting at Washington, D.C.’s Holocaust Museum).
Both ABC’s World News and the NBC Nightly News, in contrast, offered full reports on the killing of Pouillon and a local businessman, but offered different explanations. According to NBC’s John Yang, prosecutors said the killer, Harlan Drake, had grudges against his victims and another intended target but “none of them were specifically related to anti- or pro-abortion beliefs.”
Over on ABC, however, reporter Chris Bury showed a soundbite from the Owosso police chief that sure sounded like a grudge against Pouillon’s protests: “Mr. Drake did not believe the children should view the graphic material that was on the signs that Mr. Pouillon carried.”
And ABC’s Bury claimed Friday’s killing of the peaceful protester represented “the flip side of the troubling violence surrounding the abortion debate,” and equated the pro-life activist with the doctor who performed late-term abortions: “George Tiller and Jim Pouillon, on opposite sides of the abortion divide, but both victims of the hate that too often surrounds it.”
In case you missed it, MRC’s Tim Graham had an article published on National Review Online titled "Song of Loss." Check it out. There’s a new pro-life song out in stores and on i-Tunes:
The popular all-girl Christian-rock trio BarlowGirl has a brand-new album out with a song about the emotional pain women frequently experience after an abortion. As much as musicians since the Sixties have been hallowed as sensitive souls with a unique vision to diagnose our societal ills, few in the music world have ever wanted to address this tough topic. The three Barlow sisters — Alyssa, Lauren, and Rebecca — worked on this song for two and a half years to try to get it just right.
Tim declared: "How refreshing it is for anyone in the music industry to bring a caring, lifelong perspective into an overnight, casual-sex world."
CNN’s Carol Costello report on Thursday’s American Morning about the end of abstinence-only sex education in North Carolina leaned to the left in the featured sound bites. Three clips came from those who endorsed “comprehensive” sex education, including one who worked for an organization that promotes abortion overseas, as opposed to only one clip from a conservative who favored the old program.
Costello’s report, which came just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, was part of a week-long series about “Educating America.” The CNN correspondent began with a car analogy to describe the transition to the more liberal sex ed program: “You know, it’s sort of like going from zero to 100 miles per hour. School districts, like some in North Carolina, have not taught kids about how to use birth control or how to control sexually-transmitted diseases- or prevent them, I should say- and now they’re trying to come up with a more comprehensive sex education class. It’s challenging.”
Aging doctors who perform abortions are lamenting the dearth of newly-minted doctors willing to perform them, Washington Post's Sandra G. Boodman informs readers of the September 1 paper.
"The goal... is to make 'abortion' not a dirty word," Boodman quotes med student Megan Evans at the close of her 40-paragraph Health section front-pager. Evans, the president-elect of George Washington University Medical School's Medical Students for Choice, is held out by Boodman as one who hopes "to be in the vanguard of the next generation of doctors providing abortions."
Yet Boodman's article devoted little ink to pro-life medical students or doctors, giving them just two paragraphs, and only then to have abortion clinic operator Susan Hill* dismiss out-of-hand their arguments:
Jay Lindsay quoted almost exclusively from liberals in his report on Ted Kennedy’s Catholicism for the AP on Friday. Only one of those excerpted by Lindsay was a conservative, not counting Catholic Church officials.
The AP correspondent led his article, titled “Kennedy’s Catholicism source of comfort, conflict,” with some glowing language, but at least portrayed how the deceased senator was not always a faithful believer: “Sen. Edward Kennedy was raised from birth to cherish his Catholicism, and it became both a source of comfort and conflict throughout his life. The son of the country’s most famous Catholic family defied church teachings when he divorced his first wife, then was granted an annulment only after he admitted he wasn’t being honest when he promised her he’d be faithful. His most significant and public break with the church came with his support for abortion rights.”
Lindsay followed this summary about the Democrats’s “significant and public break” with Church teaching by countering that “Kennedy also advocated for signature Catholic causes, such as help for the poor, health care and immigration reform, and opposition to the Iraq war.” While the Church does do significant work on those three issues, and Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI voiced their opposition to the Iraq war, they do not raise to the same moral importance as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, contrary to what many Catholic dissenters might say.
To liberal media outlets, Warren Hern, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country, has been worthy of praise as a doctor who boldly stands up for his beliefs in the face of intimidation - a lonely humanitarian braving violent death for the sake of his patients.
That's the picture painted by TV and other media. What's missing from the portrait is Hern's belief that humans are "malignant ecotumors," his refusal to be called an abortionist, and his strident denunciations of the pro-life movement.
Attention has turned to Hern in the wake of the May 31 murder of Kansas late-term abortionist (and Hern friend) George Tiller. Since then, Hern has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and NPR. Print media, including the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune have cited him.
Esquire magazine devoted 9,000 words to Hern in its current issue, which sparked his Aug. 12 appearance on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show and praise from Keith Olbermann.