Media Men Debate Women’s Rights

Columnist Katha Pollitt (Nation, 6/10/09) has examined the extent to which, “in the immediate aftermath of Dr. Tiller’s murder, it was astonishing how many men were called upon to weigh in on abortion on national television”:

CNN featured William Schneider, Sanjay Gupta and Bill Press. On Fox, Bill O’Reilly defended his use of “baby killer” and “death mill” to describe Dr. Tiller and his clinic. On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann–who the last time I checked in spent a whole segment making fun of Miss Anti-Gay Marriage California’s breast implants with waspish misogynist Michael Musto–had only men: Slate‘s Will Saletan, who thinks we can “end” abortion by stigmatizing women with unwanted pregnancies, because right now everyone is just too kind….

In the more than three decades since Roe v. Wade, “the fetus” gradually became the star of the abortion drama, and the voices of women who had abortions, aka “the woman,” leached out of the public discussion. How many embryos can dance on the head of a pin–now that’s interesting! Off-the-cuff judgments about how late is too late and what kinds of health problems count as serious–everyone’s a doctor!

Noticing that “the murder of Dr. Tiller has gotten more women telling their stories,” Pollitt calls that “a crucial, good thing”–but “not so that panels of pundits can approve or disapprove but so that society can hear, firsthand, what girls and women go through.” Listen to FAIR’s radio show CounterSpin: “Fred Clarkson on Tiller Murder” (6/5/09).