Re: Ken Shepherd on Ceci Connolly

August 29th, 2005 10:06 PM

Ken Shepherd noted that the front page of Monday's WashPost carried a story with the headline "Access to Abortion Pared at State Level." But I had a different take on reporter Ceci Connolly's piece. It begins: "This year's state legislative season draws to a close having produced a near-record number of laws imposing new restrictions on a woman's access to abortion or contraception." This language of danger to "women's access" sounds like abortion-advocate wording.

The question that emerges: is every pro-life measure a "restriction"? The third paragraph begins: "Three states have passed bills requiring that women seeking an abortion be warned that the fetus will feel pain, despite inconclusive scientific data on the question." Does an informed-consent rule really qualify as a restriction? The Post isn't going to call it what is really is: a restriction on an abortion clinic's ability to persuade women to buy what it's selling.

There's a lot of talk of parental notification and consent requirements in the story, which are restrictions, but then the question: is a 12-year-old girl a "woman"? (Ceci also cites the Alan Guttmacher Institute as a main source for the story, without noting it's an arm of Planned Parenthood.) She also includes in this "restrictions" story new bills recognizing the "fetus" as a human being under assault and murder laws, which again in no way "restrict" women's "access" to abortion.

Near the end of Ceci's story comes this passage: "Not all the restrictive measures came from Republican-controlled states. Democratic governors in Kansas and Pennsylvania signed budgets that steer millions of dollars to organizations that provide alternatives to abortion." Now how on Earth does that qualify as a "restriction" to women's "access"? It allows women to seek alternatives, if that's where they want to go. Once again, it is only a "restriction" on abortion clinic business, in that it might attract women away from an abortion. I don't think the Post would argue that funding anti-smoking programs is a "restriction" on smoking.

Media critics can have an honest debate about terminology in abortion stories, and some may not want to use terms like "partial-birth abortion" or "pro-life." But in this case, the language the Post uses is so eager to please abortion advocates that it's just plain inaccurate.