Thomas Sowell

 Now that a federal judge has ruled that the law banning "partial birth abortion" is unconstitutional, there is certain to be much media coverage of the issue as it makes its way up the appellate chain to the Supreme Court of the United States. How that will turn out legally is anybody's guess but the process will reveal at least as much about the media as it does about the law.

 Many in the media resent any suggestion that they are either politically biased or that journalists' personal views stop them from doing a good professional job of accurately reporting the news. The way the issue of partial birth abortion has been reported -- or not reported -- gives the lie to such protests.

 Whether you or they are for or against abortion in general or this specific procedure in particular, if the much proclaimed "public's right to know" means anything, it should mean that the readers and viewers should be told what it is. Much of the liberal media fails that simple test completely.

 Some in the media use only the opaque expression "late-term abortion," while others refer to the fact that some people call it a late-term abortion and others call it a partial-birth abortion. But all this reporting about semantics is not telling the public just what it is that is being discussed in the first place.

 Neither the defenders nor the critics are talking about semantics. They are talking about what is actually done -- and that is what a major part of the mainstream media refuses to tell us.

 Even a quality news program like The News Hour with Jim Lehrer featured a debate earlier this year, with both sides represented -- at the end of which the viewer still had no way to learn just what is a partial birth abortion or a "late-term abortion," as the liberals prefer to call it.

 What happens is that a baby who is in the process of being born, with part of his body outside his mother's body and part still inside, is deliberately killed. One of the methods of doing this is to have his brains sucked out of his head by a device.

 Although this is called an abortion, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said that it seemed too much like infanticide to him. What keeps it from being murder, as far as the law is concerned, is that part of the baby's body is still inside the mother, so that this procedure can be classified as an abortion.

 The American Medical Association some years ago said that there is no medical necessity for such an unusual procedure. Its purpose is not medical but legal: to keep the doctor and the mother from being indicted for killing a newborn baby.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate