NY Times' Santos Alarmed Arizona GOP Pushing Bill to Inspect Abortion Clinics

There those damn conservatives go again, trying to pass a bill to regulate abortion clinics and maybe save unborn lives in the process. Don't they know that sensible, moderate Republicans like Arizona governor Jan Brewer have had it with their shenanigans and want to get on to business that is less, well, controversial?

That, essentially, is the gripe of Fernanda Santos's page A16 story in Friday's New York Times headlined "Day After Veto, Arizona Takes Up Abortion Clinics" (emphasis mine):


PHOENIX — A day after being reprimanded by Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, for failing to heed her call for action on the budget and the state’s child welfare agency, Arizona’s Republican-led House of Representatives promptly took up a new piece of social legislation on Thursday that would permit the surprise inspection of abortion clinics in the state.

The measure, which would also require the clinics to report “whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion,” was championed by the Center for Arizona Policy, the same powerful Evangelical Christian group that pushed a bill Ms. Brewer vetoed on Wednesday  that would have made it easier for businesses to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people on religious grounds.

“When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear,” Ms. Brewer said Wednesday as she announced the veto. One, she said, was “passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic comeback.” Another was fixing the state’s beleaguered child-protection system.

“Instead,” she continued acerbically, “this is the first policy bill to cross my desk” this year.

Republican legislators behind the abortion bill said they were simply doing what their constituents wanted, “holding true to the positions we campaigned on,” as State Representative John Kavanagh put it. The measure was initially approved on Thursday, but in an unusual sign of agreement among leaders of both parties, a final vote was postponed, presumably until next week.

“Outside of the merits of the bill, the timing, it was a horrible idea,” said Representative Bruce Wheeler, a Democrat and the House minority whip.

The new bill, opposed by Democrats and Planned Parenthood, would do away with a requirement that the state health department obtain a warrant before inspecting any of Arizona’s nine licensed abortion clinics.

The Center for Arizona Policy, which has been behind several pieces of conservative social legislation here, has deep ties to Republicans in the State Capitol and was once a close ally of Ms. Brewer’s. They parted ways last year after the center’s president, Cathi Herrod, campaigned hard against the governor’s plan to expand Medicaid, arguing that because the program paid for certain services provided by Planned Parenthood, it also funded abortions, even if indirectly.

You'll notice that Planned Parenthood was not described as a "powerful" liberal interest group with "deep ties" to Democrats, even though, of course, that is true. What's more, Planned Parenthood has a financial stake in the proposed regulations as it OPERATES four of the state's nine licensed clinics, although Santos did not explicitly connect those dots in her story.

Santos -- pictured at right --could simply report the news and give readers both sides of the controversy, but it's abundantly clear her goal is to set a narrative about Arizona Republicans being out-of-control ideologues who drifting far to the right of their own party's center of political gravity.

That sort of "reporting" might garner pats on the back at cocktail parties, but it does a disservice to the news consumer who looks to the paper for an objective rendering of "all the news that's fit to print."

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