WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2012 /Christian Newswire --
"The mainstream news media is once again demonstrating its eagerness to use any excuse to portray a Republican presidential ticket as out of the mainstream on abortion, while ignoring the truly extreme positions taken by the pro-abortion candidate -- this year, President Obama," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
The mainstream news media is again busy ginning up stories exploring the outer parameters of the abortion-related policy positions of pro-life Republican candidates, even where this involves remote, theoretical scenarios -- while demonstrating a near-total disinterest in putting the spotlight on the outer parameters of the "abortion rights" positions embraced by President Obama, even on matters under current legislative consideration.
The current media focus is on the position of the Romney-Ryan ticket on prohibiting abortion in cases of rape or incest. Governor Romney has been quite clear that he supports rape and incest exceptions to a law providing general protection for unborn children. This is the same position taken by pro-life President George W. Bush, who did much to advance federal policies to move towards a society in which all were "welcomed in life and protected in law."
According to a 2005 study published by the Guttmacher Institute, "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions," one percent of the women who were surveyed while seeking abortions reported having an abortion because they were victims of rape. Legislation to prohibit early abortion in cases of rape and incest is not under consideration in Congress. Indeed, since 1993, Congress provided federal funding for abortion in cases of rape and incest. Starting that year, those exceptions were added to the Hyde Amendment (the law which generally prohibits federal Medicaid funding for abortion), in addition to the original life-of-mother exception. When the rape/incest exceptions were added to the law, the Clinton Administration estimated that it would result in federal funding of abortion "nationally to about 1,000 women," despite the huge size of the federal Medicaid program (over 33 million persons covered in 1995, and over 50 million today). (Letter from President Clinton to Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, February 22, 1994). Subsequent reports issued by HHS showed that the actual number of federally funded abortions nationwide, even with the rape-incest exceptions, ranged between 112 and 458 nationwide between FY 1994 and FY 2007.
Much has been made of Congressman Paul Ryan's cosponsorship of the "Sanctity of Human Life Act" (H.R. 212). This resolution-like bill affirms the general principle that every individual member of the species homo sapiens should be recognized as a human being. It does not contain any prohibition of anything, or any penalty for anything. The details of implementing such a principle, including the type and definition of exceptions to any enacted law protecting unborn children, would have to be contained in language enacted by elected legislators -- generally reflecting, presumably, the majority views of their constituents.
When covering such legislation, many reporters show themselves willing to embrace even extravagant extrapolations as factual, or to adopt tendentious, advocacy phraseology as their own. For example, Stephanie Condon, identified as "a political reporter for CBSNews.com," wrote in a "news" story on August 15, concerning Ryan and the "Sanctity of Human Life Act"[italics added for emphasis]: "Supporters of reproductive rights have loudly pointed out that this type of legislation would not only outlaw abortion but potentially some forms of contraception or even in vitro fertilization. Personhood initiatives are so extreme that even card-carrying conservatives like former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have expressed concerns that they go too far . . ."
Despite the remoteness of these matters from any legislation currently under consideration in Congress or likely to be considered by the next Congress, the mainstream news media finds them worthy of sustained attention. Yet there is little interest by these journalists in performing a symmetrical exploration of the outer parameters of President Obama's policy positions on abortion -- even with respect to bills that are under active consideration in Congress.
For example, recently NRLC brought it to the attention of Congress that currently, in the District of Columbia -- a federal jurisdiction -- abortion is legal for any reason, until the moment of birth. (This is because the "District Council," utilizing delegated congressional authority, repealed the entire abortion law.) On July 31, 2012, by a solid majority of 66 votes (220-154), the U.S. House of Representatives voted for a bill (H.R. 3803) to overturn this policy, and replace it with a ban on abortion after 20 weeks fetal age (the beginning of the sixth month), except to save the life of the mother. At the same time, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) filed the same measure as an amendment to cybersecurity legislation (S. 3414) -- a White House priority -- that was pending in the Senate when the August recess began.