Recently, NPR tweeted out the audio of a woman getting an abortion as part of Katie Wells' coverage of the issue ahead of the midterm elections at Northland Family Planning in Detroit. As sickening as the 11-minute segment was, it hardly told the full story, as Abby Johnson, formerly a Planned Parenthood director, highlighted in a column for Townhall. Even just clicking on Wells' article in question shows that the site has a penchant for rather pro-abortion content, as evidenced by the "Abortion Rights In Michigan" section and "Things to Know" that appear on the side of the article, presumably as recommended reading.
The main NPR website is just as worse. On Tuesday morning they published Selena Simmons-Duffin's transcript, "Doctors who would like to defy abortion laws say it's too risky," as heard on "Morning Edition." An article version, "Doctors who want to defy abortion laws say it's too risky," was posted on Wednesday morning. A quick look at her author's bio page shows she too has written pro-abortion content.
"Doctors in states with abortion bans can face prison time and lose their licenses if they violate the laws. Some are calling on doctors to openly defy the bans," Tuesday's subheadline reads. Early on in the segment, host Rachel Martin points out that "Some doctors are asking themselves a tough question - when they are forced to choose between their ethical obligations to patients and the law, should they defy the law?"
Both begin similarly to other pro-abortion articles, by making readers fearful about where there is perceived to be confusion as to what qualifies as "medical emergencies" when it comes to exceptions where an abortion may be performed.
It's worth noting, though, especially because Simmons-Duffins fails to, that all state laws contain exceptions to save the life of the mother, and that pro-life laws do indeed protect women. National Review Online's Alexandra DeSanctis has covered the issue at length, which includes an in-depth look at each state law and citing a report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
Not only is such a mention is missing from Simmons-Duffin's coverage, but she also appears to make only brief mention of the other side, and then quickly counteracts it.
"Not all doctors agree that the abortion restrictions are responsible for harming patients. The American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs (AAPLOG) calls that idea absurd, arguing OB-GYNs have many years of training to know when to intervene before a condition becomes life threatening," she says. Wednesday's article goes deeper into that point:
Not all doctors agree that the abortion restrictions are responsible for harming patients. Dr. Christine Francis of the American Association of Pro-Life Ob-Gyns, has written that the suggestion that these laws interfere with the treatment of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions is "absurd."
She told a congressional subcommittee this summer that Ob-Gyns' "medical expertise and years of training make it very possible for us to discern when we need to intervene to save a woman's life."
The AMA is also mentioned in Wednesday's article for having "passed resolutions at the meeting to direct a task force to create a legal defense fund and legal strategy for physicians who are prosecuted for providing abortions when that is the medical standard of care."
In each instance, though, Matthew Wynia, who directs the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado, is given deference. "But many doctors and groups, like the American Medical Association, are concerned. Wynia published an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine in September calling for physicians to take a stand against these laws, when necessary, using civil disobedience," Simmons-Duffin shared on Tuesday.
Colorado, home to that center, allows for unlimited abortions up until birth for any reason. It is one of a handful of states plus the District of Columbia, which, even before Roe v. Wade was overturned with Dobbs v. Jackson, had no gestational limit on abortion. A state ballot initiative failed in the 2020 election that would have limited abortion to before 22-weeks. In April, as Madeline covered, pro-abortion Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) signed legislation creating a "fundamental" right to the procedure.
"If the law is wrong and causing you to be involved in harming patients, you do not have to live to that law," Wynia also claims.
Simmons-Duffin then goes on to promote the "long history of civil disobedience around abortion." Later in the segment, Wynia's fear-mongering is mentioned further. While Simons-Duffin acknowledges that "there have been no reported prosecutions of health care workers," that's not enough for Wynia. "There will be individual doctors who will get - presumably, will end up in court. And then, you know, the question will arise--were they supported? Can they be supported," he asks.
Wednesday's article also goes more in depth about this so-called form of "civil disobedience." Wednesday's article, referring to Wynia, reads:
He wants organized medicine, accrediting organizations, and medical facilities like hospitals to unite in saying clearly that they will support clinicians who decide to follow the standard of care for a patient, even when that may violate state abortion laws.
Strong leadership at the institutional level could embolden doctors to follow their medical judgment and cause fewer instances of doctors delaying care to consult legal experts, Wynia says. In the face of tough cases, he hopes doctors will think, "If we do the right thing, we may end up in court, but we know we're not alone in this — we know we've got the whole medical establishment behind us."
AMA's resolutions earlier this month to support the doctors who do get charged in the future for providing abortions in keeping with medical ethics and standards of care are a good first step, he says. Those policies give direction to a task force to provide policies, legal strategies and financial resources, but there is no timeline for more details on what shape that will take.
The lack of properly covering the pro-life issue and the heavy focus on Wynia also fails to mention how it is that women are harmed by abortion, which can include psychological as well as physical complications, especially later in pregnancy.
Wynia had a much different take in sharing the segment over Twitter, though, curiously and subjectively referring to it as "a carefully reported, nuanced story about doctors who are being forced to choose between following good medicine or bad laws."