May 01 2001

Self-Gagged on Gag Rule

Coverage of family-planning restrictions inaccurate, incomplete

Coverage of family-planning restrictions inaccurate, incompleteGeorge W. Bush celebrated his first working day in office–and the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (1/22/01)–by reinstating the Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era rule that bans U.S. family planning aid to overseas groups that provide abortions or referrals–even if they do so with private, non-U.S. funds. Under the rule (lifted in 1993 by Bill Clinton), U.S. aid recipients cannot use their own money to discuss abortion as a medical option, lobby their own governments for legal reforms, or conduct “public information campaigns” about the procedure. Long condemned in family-planning circles as the “global […]

Sep 01 2000

Pro-Choice Not Networks’ Choice

Abortion rights ads too "controversial" for TV

Abortion rights ads too “controversial” for TVDuring the past three decades, the religious right has slowly chipped away at women’s access to safe, legal reproductive services with a multi-tiered approach to anti-abortion activism. Legislative efforts have resulted in funding restrictions, waiting periods, parental consent and notification bills, as well as so-called “fetal protection” bills and “partial birth” abortion bans attempting to criminalize doctors. Meanwhile, violence and harassment aimed at clinics and doctors have forced many physicians to stop providing abortion services. At the same time, anti-choice activists have worked to create a perceptual sea change using media–particularly paid commercials–to sway […]

Mar 01 2000

Partial Truth Abortion Coverage

Media adopt rhetoric of 'fetal rights'

Media adopt rhetoric of ‘fetal rights’Coverage of restrictive abortion legislation demonstrates that “balanced” reporting is not necessarily synonymous with accurate reporting. Even while seeming to present impartial facts, media often simultaneously participate in the subtle rhetorical shift toward elevating the fetus to a legal standing separate and equal to a woman’s. The “rights of the unborn” is the most recent gambit for the movement to curb reproductive choice–illustrated by Arkansas’ Fetal Protection Act, which punishes attackers separately for crimes against a fetus; Missouri’s extremist Infant Protection Act (currently under a judicial restraining order), which threatens women and doctors with sentences […]

Dec 01 1998

‘Terrorists’ Attack Ski Lodges, Not Doctors

Dr. Bernard Slepian

Two stories involving politically motivated crimes received substantial–and substantially different–media attention in October. On October 23, Dr. Barnett Slepian of Buffalo, New York, was shot by a sniper, apparently because the obstetrician was one of the few doctors in his area who performed abortions. On October 19, several unoccupied buildings at a Vail, Colorado, ski resort were burned to the ground, an apparent response to the resort’s expansion plans, which will destroy wildlife habitat. The most obvious difference between the two crimes is that one was intended to take a human life, while the other was targeted against property. The […]

Aug 01 1996

Walking the Abortion Plank

What the Republican Platform Really Says

What the Republican Platform Really SaysOne of the biggest dramas of the 1996 election–for the political press corps, at least–has been the question of the Republican platform’s abortion plank. Would Bob Dole alienate the religious right by trying to change the plank? Would he alienate pro-choice voters by not changing it? Will Pat Buchanan walk out of the convention? Can Ralph Reed sell “tolerance” to the Christian Coalition? There have been literally hundreds of these stories in major newspapers across the country, according to a Nexis database search. But only about a dozen times did these papers even let their […]

Jul 01 1995

Far-Right Militias and Anti-Abortion Violence

When Will Media See the Connection?

When Will Media See the Connection?When the Oklahoma City bombing captured the attention of the mainstream media, some women’s rights activists expected that the attack would end mainstream media’s reluctance to report on violence against abortion-providers and other domestic terror threats. That reasonable hope was dashed. With its first reporting of the Oklahoma story, the New York Times (4/20/95) ran a list headlined “Other Bombings in America”, which spanned four decades and included some attacks that claimed no injuries or lives. But none of the 40 officially documented bombings that have targeted women’s clinics in that period was mentioned. Media […]

Nov 01 1994

Media Turned Population Debate Into Pope vs. Veep

From the Women's Desk

From the Women’s Desk“The Cairo Conference will probably be remembered as the Great Abortion Showdown,” exclaimed a Wall Street Journal report (9/13/94) as the International Conference on Population and Development drew to a close this September. But whose fault is that? For all the “isn’t it a shame” tone of journalistic commentary, most of the mainstream media allowed that debate to dominate coverage of Cairo. United Nations conferences are bureaucratic affairs; the anti-contraception dogma of the Pope against a most-of-the-world, pro-choice chorus provided a dramatic angle on the “Clash of Wills in Cairo”, headlined Time magazine (9/12/94); “Population Wars”, U.S. […]

Oct 01 1994

Anti-Abortion Terrorists on TV

On December 8, 1993, Nightline gave Paul Hill an extended platform to advocate the killing of doctors who perform abortions, unchallenged by any pro-choice perspective. On July 29, 1994, Hill allegedly murdered Dr. John Britton and his escort at a Florida clinic. FAIR warned after Paul Hill’s Nightline appearance of the dangers of turning proponents of murder into media celebrities (Extra! Update, 2/94). But despite the murder of Britton and his escort–the latest in a series of violent acts against abortion providers–advocates of anti-abortion terrorism are still able to use media to promote their cause. NBC‘s Today show on August […]