On June 1, 1977, two people closed their eyes to the existence of babies. I’m thankful for the wink of one and still saddened by the blindness of another.
Quick story: My wife Susan and I, wed for a year, were nine months pregnant. I had a new job that required us to move 100 miles north from San Diego to Long Beach. We had a hospital to go to near Long Beach, so we decided to move before our baby was born. (Susan’s willingness was additional evidence that I married up.)
Lots of rental apartments had “For Lease” signs on them: We drove up and down streets near the beach and knocked on the doors of apartment managers. But a problem emerged: It was legal at that time in California to have “no children allowed” apartments. Several managers took one look at great-with-child Susan and said no. One finally winked and said, “I don’t see a child.” We were in.
That same day, 3,000 miles away, “New York Times” reporter Linda Greenhouse reported that the New York state Senate, then with a GOP majority, had voted 35-22 for a resolution asking Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of adopting a pro-life amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Except, of course, Greenhouse did not write “pro-life,” nor did she note anywhere in the article whose lives the legislators wanted to save. Reporters usually want readers to know the story they’re looking at is significant, but Greenhouse did everything possible to minimize its importance.
Her lead -- “After a long and bitter debate that resurrected nearly every argument of the last decade for and against abortion” -- screamed: OLD NEWS. Then, “There is virtually no chance that the resolution will get through the Assembly here,” signaled: IRRELEVANT NEWS. Still later, lines like “the debate was almost purely symbolic,” added exclamation marks: BORING!!
By 1977 Greenhouse was already a veteran abortion reporter. Her first major article on the subject came on June 28, 1970, three days before widespread abortion became legal in New York. The headline was, “After July 1, an abortion should be as simple to have as a tonsillectomy, but --.” Greenhouse complained about “bureaucratic wrangling, dispute and even bitterness within the medical community.”
She hoped that in several years, “when presumably other states will have repealed their abortion laws, efficient clinics will be operating and emotions will have cooled.” She yearned for “the day when an abortion carries with it no more bureaucratic or emotional baggage than a tonsillectomy.”
Greenhouse concluded her article by quoting abortionist Bernard Nathanson: “People talk about New York becoming the abortion capital of the world as if that would be a terrible thing. But substitute ‘heart transplant’ -- make New York the heart-transplant capital of the world and see how their expressions change. . I’d be proud if New York were humane enough and had enough compassion to become the abortion capital of the world.”
She did not give Nathanson the last word a few years later when he turned pro-life, directed/narrated “The Silent Scream” (a film featuring the ultrasound video of a 12-week unborn child being killed), and converted to Christianity. But she continued writing about abortion as the Supreme Court reporter for the “New York Times,” and regularly treated the cutting up or poisoning of unborn babies as no more morally troublesome than a tonsillectomy.
When Greenhouse hit age 70 in 2017, the Harvard University Press published her autobiography, “Just a Journalist.” Her audacious brag: She sent a donation check every month to Planned Parenthood, but her frequent articles on abortion were bias-free and never “failed to match up to professional standards.”
The standards of the abortion profession, perhaps. Among those standards: Use the dehumanizing Latin word ‘fetus’rather than ‘unborn child,’ which would draw attention to baby-killing. I wouldn’t mind that so much if she were consistent and accompanied ‘fetus’ with the parallel word ‘gravida,’ Latin for pregnant mother. But she never did, to my knowledge, just as she never mentioned in her more than 100 references to Planned Parenthood over the years that she was a constant donor.
She has spilled lots of blood, but the blood of Jesus can still cover her sin as it did Bernie Nathanson’s, as it does for me and you.