NARAL Pro-Choice America recently released a report claiming that the mainstream media’s coverage of abortion-related topics is… wait for it… too pro-life. Media outlets they examined include the New York Times, CNN, and Politico, as well as seven others.
NARAL’s first criticism is that political reporters, rather than healthcare reporters, usually cover abortion-related news. These reporters are more likely to quote politicians than doctors, they say, giving the impression that abortion is not a healthcare issue. (Never mind that deliberately killing innocent humans isn’t usually considered health care.) But reporters, they argue, don’t do a good enough job presenting abortion as routine health care.
The NARAL authors then write:
Charged rhetoric from anti-choice advocates are included in coverage, oftentimes with minimal context. Nearly half of all articles analyzed included terms such as “infanticide,” “partial-birth abortion,” and “heartbeat bill,” but only a fraction of those articles provided an independent definition of the term. This trend is exacerbated on Twitter.
NARAL doesn’t want the media to refer to bills restricting abortion upon a detectable heartbeat as a “Heartbeat Bill,” even though those bills are frequently named “Heartbeat Bill.” Instead, they expect mainstream media outlets to say, “the so-called Heartbeat Bill.”
Interestingly, NARAL says (emphasis added):
Out of the 91 articles mentioning fetal “heartbeat” legislation, many articles noted that “a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks.” But only 27 articles noted that that is typically before a woman even knows she is pregnant — a critical fact that gives context to the potential impact on women.
In saying this, NARAL unintentionally admitted that the slogan “abortion stops a beating heart” is true.
As noted above, in addition to using the term “Heartbeat Bill,” NARAL does not like the media to include pro-life quotes referring to “infanticide,” even though abortion supporters have adamantly opposed laws requiring medical care for babies who accidentally survive abortions. They also object to the term “partial-birth abortion,” which is also in the name of a law.
It seems as if NARAL wants the media to make up less damaging euphemisms for every pro-life law.
NARAL’s complaint alleged that reporters use terms like “heartbeat bill” too often on Twitter:
In some cases, the harmful rhetoric was actually used more frequently by journalists than by party activists; journalists who write about abortion were actually more likely to mention “heartbeat bills” on Twitter than Republican Members of Congress or GOP influencers. Journalists mentioned “heartbeat bills” 50 percent more than any other group.
Journalists mentioned the words “heartbeat bill” 1.5% of the time in their tweets. Republican influencers mentioned it 0.98% of the time. Republican politicians mentioned it least of all categories – a mere 0.07% of the time. Interestingly enough, Democratic politicians actually used the term “heartbeat bill” in their tweets more frequently than Republicans did.
NARAL goes on to say:
Alongside use of this harmful language in their social media posts, journalists were even less likely to put this language in context on Twitter. Only 20 percent of posts mentioning “heartbeat bills” put the term in quotation marks, and fewer than 2 percent of posts included the term “so-called.”
NARAL goes on to complain that abortionists and women who have had abortions aren’t quoted enough in the media. NARAL complains that just 8% of news stories contain “a real person’s story.” The question is, whose stories are they looking for here? Surely not one of the many thousands of stories from women who regret their abortions. They want happy abortion stories. If the media frequently quoted women who regret their abortions, this would likely also be included on NARAL’s list of complaints.
Silent No More, a site where women express their abortion regret, has over 3,000 stories. And by my own estimate, it appears that on the site Abortion Changes You, negative stories outnumber positive stories by at least 30 to 1.
NARAL claims that the vast majority of Americans support abortion, while the media paints abortion as a controversial issue:
Reporters characterize the abortion debate as divisive, furthering the perception of profound conflict on the issue. Around 17 percent of the articles analyzed described the issue of abortion as divisive, debateable, charged, controversial, or other similar terms.
NARAL claims repeatedly that most Americans support abortion. But in reality, only a very small portion of the country supports the position of NARAL, which believes abortion should be legal even through the third trimester, for any reason. A vast majority of Americans, and even a majority of pro-choicers, oppose this. NARAL also opposes the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal taxpayer dollars for abortion. Polls show that most people support the Hyde Amendment and do not want their taxpayer dollars paying for abortions. Letting babies die when they are born alive after abortions is even less popular.
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