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Not Biased Enough! NARAL Issues Laughable ‘Study’ of Abortion Media Coverage

by | Jun 20, 2020

By Tim Graham

Editor’s note. My family will be gone on vacation through August 24. During that span we’ll run prior posts from the past year that remain timely and/or were particularly well-received. We will also add a new story or three as events dictate.

In our experience, the “objective” media tilt dramatically in favor or abortion advocates. But amazingly, it’s not biased enough for them. NARAL Pro-Choice America released a “media analysis,” a “deep dive” last week on the way journalists cover abortion. They hired the Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling and PR firm, to do the study. 

How flawed is it? Start with how they read the media: “A random sample of more than 300 abortion-related articles were elected for study across ten major news outlets…from January through June of 2019.” It would be much more accurate to pick just one media outlet and read every article. But listen to some of their actual complaints/findings, which are really complaining that the pro-life side gets too much attention: 

“Abortion is covered as a political issue, not a health issue.” That’s because it IS a political issue! Their introduction to this report actually screams “the right to abortion has never been more at risk.” But this complaint keeps coming…

“Political coverage elevates political voices and excludes those most impacted by abortion: doctors and those who seek abortion care.” They complain that politicians are quoted in political stories, when they want sensitive profiles of women who really needed to exercise their “right to choose” and the doctors who relieve them of their “burdens.”   

“Abortion coverage follows legislation and litigation.” Do these lobbyists know what the “news” business does? It covers what our legislatures debate. How are they supposed to report on those “backward” red states attempting to limit abortion if they skip legislative debates? They’re actually complaining that the media covered Planned Parenthood and the ACLU suing to stop Alabama’s pro-life bill.

“Coverage obscures or omits majority support for Roe vs. Wade.” Only nine percent of articles, they complained, mention a majority of American support Roe. But that doesn’t mean a majority embrace “abortion access generally,” as they claim.  

The latest CBS News poll asked respondents to choose one of three options: Abortion should be “generally available,” “not permitted,” or “available under stricter limits.” If you leave out the middle option, abortion wins – 43 percent picked “generally available,” and 24 percent said “not permitted.” But 31 percent chose “available under stricter limits,” which could suggest 55 percent want stricter limits than presently on the books.         

“Reporters characterize the abortion debate as divisive, furthering the perception of profound conflict on the issue.” They complained “around 17 percent of the articles described abortion as “divisive, debatable, charged, controversial, or other similar terms.” Abortion kills an unborn human being. They want it to be covered like pimple removal. 

This leads to the real gem:

“Charged rhetoric from anti-abortion advocates are included in coverage, often with minimal context.” Nearly half of all articles included “anti-choice” terms NARAL would deem unworthy of inclusion, including “infanticide,” “partial-birth abortion,” and “heartbeat bill.” They fussed that only four articles alluded to the notion that a “fetal heartbeat” isn’t a heartbeat, but electric pulses in a forming heart. It’s “fetal cardiac activity.” 

Weasel words. 

The first sentence in this report suggests their side is Science and the pro-life side is Ideology: “When it comes to reproductive freedom, people’s personal ideologies should not interfere with others’ lives, nor should it trump science.” Ironically, an abortion study I did 22 years ago began with the finding “One side is presented as ideological. The other is not.” NARAL’s side was almost never described as “liberal.” 

These Guardians of Science are the same people who object to the term “Born Alive” as “inflammatory and inaccurate” when a baby comes out of the womb alive and is “terminated.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.

Categories: NARAL