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The Media's Abortion Double Standard

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

We've written before that two of the issues on which the journalist class is most flagrantly and unapologetically biased are guns and abortion. Newsrooms are way, way out of touch with mainstream America on these matters, and the resulting coverage reflects that reality. One of the ways in which the latter bias manifests itself is through story selection. When it comes to abortion, what developments are covered most heavily – and even apocalyptically – by the national press? And which ones are either celebrated or ignored? (See update). Generally, when a Republican-led state is attempting to enact an abortion restriction, it garners a lot of press attention, much or all of it negative. Big battles in Texas over recent years have become national flashpoints, for instance. But when Democrats seek to expand "abortion rights" in truly radical ways, it barely makes a ripple.

We covered Oregon's barbaric abortion law passed in 2017, which you've probably never heard of. It's basically as extreme as it could possibly be, barring legalizing outright, full-blown infanticide. Beyond pro-life circles, there was no outcry over it. No bright lights from national news crews. No national pollsters surveying Americans about various provisions. That was all strangely absent. The latest example of this phenomenon has arisen in Colorado, which Madeline wrote about yesterday. This new legislation was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D), who is regarded as a "moderate," due to his relatively pro-business approach and his rejection of failed "zero-COVID" restrictions. But even in a blue state with a purple tint, there is nothing moderate about this: 

David Harsanyi presents the gruesome facts: 

Colorado’s new law doesn’t merely allow abortion of viable babies, for any reason, until crowning; it makes eugenic arguments about the “social, moral, and economic benefits” of not having children, as if any law or regulation compels anyone to do so. The debate, lest it be repeated, is over when life is worth protecting. According to Colorado, which has no fetal-protection laws, either, a baby is never considered a life...In the late ’70s, Colorado became the first state to set aside government funds to pay for abortions. In the early 2020s, Colorado became the first state to codify the individual right to an abortion up until the moment of birth for any reason. And Polis, the alleged reasonable Democrat, has his signature on the bill.

Harsanyi also notices the tone and tenor of the (scant) coverage: "Most headlines regarding the law were long the lines of, 'Colorado governor signs bill codifying the right to abortion in state law,' when a more precise wording would be 'Colorado governor signs law codifying abortion under any circumstance until crowning.' Hiding the intent of abortion laws, pro or con, has become a political compulsion of the media." This is the case because even though the country is divided on the overall question of legalized abortion, elective second- and third-trimester abortions are widely viewed as unacceptable and worthy of heavy restrictions and bans. Large majorities believe that abortion should only be allowed under certain circumstances, or broadly not permitted. A Gallup poll taken less than a year ago found that a majority of the American people (52 percent) say the practice should only be legal in "a few" circumstances, or illegal. Once pregnancy enters the second trimester, support for generally legal abortion falls off a cliff. By the third trimester, barely more than one-in-ten Americans favors legalized abortion at that stage.

The radical position of the modern Democratic Party, shared by much of the media, is far away from America's center of moral gravity. For all of the negative attention paid to Mississippi's law (banning most abortions at 15 weeks) that will serve as the basis for a major Supreme Court abortion decision this term, it's indisputably mainstream by international standards and enjoys plurality support among the US electorate. The news media goes to great lengths to avoid these truths because they represent a small fringe on the issue. They may not like to admit this to themselves, but the various forms of bias in their abortion coverage betrays a deep-seated understanding that they are detached from prevailing sentiment, hence the constant need to deflect, ignore, and euphemize. I'll leave you with Megan McArdle suggesting that the media's conventional wisdom that a forthcoming SCOTUS ruling that overturns or alters Roe v. Wade (which would allow states more leeway in setting abortion policy, not outlaw all abortions) would light a political revolt among large segments of female voters. She's skeptical: 

Another way of thinking of it: During the political realignment in recent years, women who might be moved in the Democratic direction over abortion...have already drifted heavily to the Democrats: 

Whereas one of the reasons Hispanics have gravitated in the other direction is pro-life sentiment and opposition to hardcore pro-abortion extremism among Democrats.

UPDATE - Shameless abortion media bias, on renewed display:

This is flat-out PR work for the abortion lobby.



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