The broadcast networks have a long history of supporting the pro-abortion side of the life debate. That bias reveals itself as much in what they won’t say as in what they will. Not only do journalists routinely refuse to report how abortion destroys unborn babies, but also they censor the danger abortion poses for women.
For the past two years, ABC, CBS and NBC haven’t mentioned a single case of a woman’s health threatened by abortion. Instead, the three networks described abortion as a necessary “healthcare” service.
Abortion Health Risks
While details on abortion complications are disputed among sources, experts agree that they exist.
According to pro-life group Americans United for Life, abortion isn’t as simple as a cavity removal. Immediate health risks include subsequent preterm birth, placenta previa, mental health problems, breast cancer, miscarriage or death.
“The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from one death for every one million abortions at or before eight weeks to one per 29,000 at 16–20 weeks—and one per 11,000 at 21 weeks or later,” the Guttmacher Institute reported.
Since 1973, the year the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion with Roe v. Wade, the CDC has recorded 424 maternal deaths from legal abortion. The most recent numbers from the CDC are for 2011, when “two women were identified to have died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortions.”
A study by the University of California San Francisco published in 2014 looked at 54,911 abortions and discovered that 126 cases “involved major complications, which the researchers defined as conditions that required hospital admission, surgery or a blood transfusion” while 1,030 cases “resulted in minor complications in the six weeks following the procedure.”
Other studies have found that abortion is safer than childbirth – although pro-life doctors dispute that. It’s also beside the point. While in developed nations modern medicine has made childbirth far safer than it once was, nobody is selling childbirth as a routine “women’s health” procedure, as some liberals do with abortion.
State-government sites also list possible risks.
Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals named the risks as: pelvic infection, incomplete abortion, blood clots in the uterus, heavy bleeding, cut or torn cervix, perforation of the uterus wall, anesthesia-related complications, Rh Immune Globulin Therapy and future childbearing.
Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services outlined possible risks as: incomplete abortion, cervical injury, uterine perforation, heavy bleeding, retained blood clots in the uterus, allergic reactions and Anesthesia-related complications.
MedlinePlus, a health information service by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, listed “rare” risks of surgical abortion as: damage to the womb or cervix, uterine perforation, excessive bleeding, infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes, scarring of the inside of the uterus, reaction to the medicines or anesthesia and not removing all of the tissue.
Networks Skip Opportunities to Inform Women about Abortion
Network correspondents often hinted at a connection between women’s health and abortion – when citing the pro-life movement.
H.B. 2, the abortion law out of Texas recently challenged in a U. S. Supreme Court case (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), forced correspondents to mention women’s safety in regards to abortion. That’s because, among other things, the bill required abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and mandated that those clinics adhere to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
In a segment for This Morning on Nov. 14 2015, CBS correspondent Jan Crawford reported that one pro-life leader said that H.B. 2 was, “designed to protect women`s health.” Similarly, on Oct. 4, 2015 during Nightly News, NBC correspondent Pete Williams acknowledged, “Supporters of the law say it protects the health of patients.”
But the reporters didn’t take the opportunity even then to elaborate on how abortion could endanger a woman’s health.
On the other hand, they were eager to list the dangers abortion clinics faced.
Shortly after the Colorado shooting at Planned Parenthood last fall, NBC journalist Kristen Welker listed the attacks on clinics during the Nightly News on Nov. 28, 2015 (as well as during Today).
“Though acts of violence are relatively rare, between 1997 and 2012, there have been seventy-six attacks on American abortion providers,” Welker reported. “In September, a Planned Parenthood clinic was set on fire in Washington State. In 2013, a man used an axe to damage a clinic in Indiana. In 2009, George Tiller, a doctor who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in his church.”
Even before the Colorado shooting, the networks listed threats. CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang similarly listed attacks at clinics, for example, during Evening News Sept. 19, 2015.
Networks Report on Abortion as Health
Instead of seeing abortion as a threat to health, anchors and correspondents routinely used language implying that abortion itself was “health”:
- Sept. 30, 2015, CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley: “…Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other health services.”
- Sept. 29, 2015, NBC Nightly News, Kelly O’Donnell: “…women’s healthcare services, including abortion.”
- Sept. 19, 2015, CBS This Morning, Anthony Mason: “…Planned Parenthood, which provides women’s health services, including abortions.”
- Sept. 18, 2015, CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley: “…Planned Parenthood, which provides women`s health services, including abortion.”
- July 30, 2015, CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley: “…Planned Parenthood, which provides women`s health services, including abortions.”
- June 26, 2014, ABC World News, Terry Moran: “Massachusetts officials had argued they needed the buffer zones because of this, raucous, offensive protests outside clinics that threatened public safety and could effectively block women's access to health care.”
- May 23, 2014, CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley: “Opponents say these laws are designed solely to close abortion facilities, but supporters say they make health care safer.”
Smaller News Sites Report on Abortion Abuses
But while there are cases where abortion threatens women’s health, traditional media rarely report on them – or appear to investigate them.
In 2014 and 2015, pro-life news sites LifeSiteNews.com and LifeNews.com published dozens of stories (many based on information from the controversial pro-life group Operation Rescue) with headlines like these:
- “Woman rushed to ER from Akron abortion facility”
- “‘Lifeless’ patient rushed to hospital after botched abortion in California”
- “Woman Rushed to Local Hospital After She’s Injured in Apparent Botched Abortion”
- “Late-Term Abortionist Rushes Woman to Hospital After Injuring Her in Botched Legal Abortion”
- “Clinic That Killed Woman in Botched Abortion Left Her on the Table With Her Legs in the Stirrups”
- “Woman Hemorrhages, Possibly Dies From Botched Abortion at California Abortion Clinic”
- “Ambulance Rushed After Botched Abortion to Planned Parenthood Clinic Exposed Selling Aborted Babies”
- “12 Times Planned Parenthood Rushed Women to the ER After Botching Their Abortions This Year”
- “Planned Parenthood Hides Botched Abortion in Call to 911: ‘She Was Having a Procedure’”
- “911 call from Bloomington Planned Parenthood: ‘Uh, she’s bleeding’”
- “Houston Planned Parenthood Caught Attempting to Hide Botched Abortion in 911 Call”
- “Planned Parenthood Tears Hole in Woman’s Womb in Botched Abortion, Staffer Hesitates Telling 911”
- “Late-Term Abortion Clinic Has Injured 17 Women in Botched Abortions Since 2008”
- “Ambulance Can’t Get Botched Abortion Victim to Hospital Because Planned Parenthood Closed Gate”
- “Woman Sobs as Ambulance Rushes Her to Hospital After Botched Abortion”
- “Woman Unresponsive After Botched Abortion at Boston Planned Parenthood”
- “Ambulance transports patient from Wichita abortion clinic in former Tiller building”
- “Pro-Abortion Study Admits Thousands of Women Hospitalized Every Year From Botched Abortions”
And it’s not just them. Other news outlets have also reported on “botched” abortions:
- The New Yorker: “A Botched Operation”
- Breitbart: “Five Women Injured in 4 Weeks During Botched Abortions at Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic”
- CNSNews: “Planned Parenthood Settles $2 Million Case After Botched Abortion”
It’s a Trend: Networks Hide Abortion Horrors
Instead of investigating these stories, the networks continued their trend of protecting abortion by hiding its horrors. The media similarly stayed silent in the case of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell's trial, in which witnesses described baby abortion survivors “swimming" in toilets “to get out,” attracted a scant 12 – 15 reporters. Only after 56 days, multiple letters from members of the House of Representatives and a public outcry, did all three broadcast networks report on Gosnell.
Among other things, Gosnell was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after one of his patients, 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, died from drug overdose while undergoing an abortion.
Methodology: MRC Culture searched transcripts with the word “abortion” from the morning and evening news shows from the big three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) from the past two years (Jan. 1. 2014 to Dec. 31, 2015).