Networks Barely Cover 'Jane Roe's' Arrest

July 14th, 2009 1:32 PM

When a well-known individual creates a disruption at a highly public, widely televised event and is then arrested, any news organization worth the name would include the incident in its coverage of that event. Right?

Not CBS’ “Evening News with Katie Couric.” And NBC’s “Nightly News” only gave the story 21 words. On July 13, Norma McCorvey, better known as “Jane Roe” in the infamous Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal, was arrested for disrupting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.

As McCorvey was leaving the hearing room, she shouted that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. McCorvey was then arrested along with three others. NBC’s Pete Williams reported, “Anti-abortion rights protesters were hustled out four times for loud interruptions, including Norma McCorvey, originally the Roe of Roe v. Wade.”

ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson”reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg closed the segment about Sotomayor’s hearing with, “And unlike any Supreme Court hearing in recent history, this one was disrupted by four antiabortion protesters. They were quickly arrested by Capitol police, but Charlie, here's an irony. One of them was Norma McCorvey. She was the anonymous Jane Roe in Roe vs. Wade. It was her case that guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion.”

Both networks failed to report McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v Wade, is passionately working to overturn the ruling. McCorvey is now adamantly against abortions. In 1995 she became a pro-life Christian and even started the pro-life Crossing Over Ministry.

With Sotomayor’s views on abortion somewhat unclear, McCorvey’s outburst should have received more attention from the networks. Ann Gerhart of The Washington Post, wrote, “With that, the culture wars that the Obama administration has so carefully tried to avoid forced their way back into full view.” Of course, with the networks paying little attention to the arrest, it is hard for the pivotal issue to be brought back into the spotlight.

Gerhart went on to write, “But the people to whom abortion matters most have a long attention span and are focused on 20 or 30 years down the line. Sotomayor is 55. If confirmed, she is likely to have decades ahead of her on the nation's high court. Her position on abortion isn't publicly known.” McCorvey can certainly be included that group of people who are concerned about the lack of clarity on Sotomayor’s positions. Although she attempted to highlight that concern, one of the three networks failed to cover the story and the other two barely covered it at all.

(Corrected: 3:30 pm Eastern time.)