Communications Department

Comforting Myths About Abortion

May 14, 2001 | PBA

What follows is a letter published in the Letters to the Editor column of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 14, 2001.

Comforting Myths About Abortion

The Journal has informed its readers that partial-birth abortion is a “rare” procedure, “typically performed when the life of the mother is at risk, or the fetus is determined to have severe abnormalities” (“Drive to Ban Abortion Procedure Slows,” April 27.) But those claims, fabricated by pro-abortion advocacy groups in 1995, had been thoroughly discredited by early 1997.

The Journal said that “critics . . . contend the procedure sometimes is used in less dire circumstances.” Actually, it was abortionists and their paid spokespersons who admitted that partial-birth abortion is routinely used for purely elective abortions, usually in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy. For example, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, told The New York Times that “in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus” (Feb. 26, 1997). Mr. Fitzsimmons elsewhere estimated that 4,000-5,000 abortions annually are performed by the partial-birth method. He expressed regret for his own role in previously propagating what he called a “party line,” stating, “I lied through my teeth.”

The claim that partial-birth abortions are used only or mostly in unusual medical circumstances was also disproved by reporters for the Hackensack (N.J.) Record and the Washington Post, among others. These reporters interviewed numerous abortionists, who readily acknowledged that they routinely use the method for purely elective abortions.

In January 1997, the PBS media criticism program “Media Matters” treated as a case study in bad reporting the news media’s earlier, uncritical dissemination of the abortion lobby’s lies about partial-birth abortion. For a respected national newspaper to resurrect such blatant misinformation four years later may demonstrate how attached some journalists are to comforting myths about abortion.

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee

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