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5 Dangerous Mistakes the Mainstream Media Made While Covering the 2018 Mar for Life

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The 2018 Mar for Life took place on Jan 19 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The impetus occurs every year on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and serves as a manifest criticism to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize termination entrance in the United States. This year, President Donald Trump addressed the Mar for Life throng around satellite from the White House Rose Garden. [Vox, 1/18/18; Rewire, 1/19/18]

Here are the 5 misfortune takes from the media’s coverage of the impetus — and where it went wrong

#1: Claimed the anti-abortion transformation has “liberal values,” such as honour for free speech


The New York Times published an op-ed claiming that the anti-abortion transformation has adopted “liberal values,” such as honour for free speech. Author Andrew R. Lewis wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that “one of the startling effects of the pro-life transformation over the past half-century has been incomparable support for polite liberties like free speech” arguing that “the politics of termination have helped learn conservatives Christians to value these rights.” Lewis did acknowledge that support for free debate rights among “conservative Christians” has been “episodic,” but pronounced that “right-to-life advocacy helped allege the values of liberalism.” In making this claim, Lewis forked to “pro-life groups [that] fought authorised and legislative battles to titillate their right to criticism at termination clinics and health caring comforts many times between the late 1980s and 2000s.” [The New York Times1/19/18]

The anti-abortion transformation cries censorship when challenged and promotes nuisance and assault against termination providers. Rather than promote free debate protections, the groups in the anti-abortion transformation have mostly exploited claims of censorship to titillate themselves whenever they are challenged. For example, Lila Rose, the founder of the anti-abortion organisation Live Action, purported that Twitter was censoring Live Action’s ads and used that explain to desire for donations. The discredited anti-abortion organisation Center for Medical Progress (CMP) also claimed it was being censored after websites took down videos the organisation published in May 2017; those videos were legally barred from being expelled by a justice sequence due to heightened regard over the reserve of the termination providers in the videos. In addition, Lewis unsuccessful to mention the flip side of anti-abortion protests at termination clinics: the consistent nuisance and threats of earthy assault that providers, clients, and hospital escorts face from anti-abortion protesters. For example, the anti-abortion organisation Operation Save America mostly protests in the neighborhoods of termination providers and distributes flyers with identifying information — including the provider’s photo and home address. [Media Matters7/6/17, 9/20/17, 8/1/17]

#2: Whitewashed anti-abortion advocates’ histories of extremism

NPR profiled two anti-abortion advocates around the Mar for Life but did not acknowledge their some-more extreme tactics. Leading up to the Mar for Life, NPR highlighted two leaders in the anti-abortion movement, Kristan Hawkins — boss of Students for Life of America (SFLA) — and Abby Johnson, founder of And Then There Were None (ATTWN). In a one-on-one interview, NPR asked Hawkins about the standing of anti-abortion policy promises Trump done on the campaign route and what anti-abortion groups wanted to hear from Trump during his Mar for Life speech, but did not discuss Hawkins’ extreme position on abortion. Similarly, in a Jan 11 segment, NPR spotlighted Johnson and ATTWN’s positioning of itself as “a shelter for women who used to work in health centers that perform abortions and now feel conflicted about that work.” NPR categorized ATTWN as an classification whose members, including Johnson, “visit clinics where abortions are performed. They hold up signs, pass out pamphlets and titillate the [abortion clinic] workers to quit their jobs.” Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) promoted the piece during his debate at the Mar for Life a week later. [NPR, 1/19/18, 1/11/18; YouTube, 1/19/18]

Media should acknowledge these termination opponents’ story of dangerous tongue and graduation of anti-abortion misinformation. NPR abandoned the anti-abortion groups’ story of nuisance and extremism in both reports on the movement. In a Jan 2018 report, NARAL Pro-Choice America minute the story of misinformation that anti-abortion leaders like Hawkins, Johnson, and some-more have spread. For example, Hawkins has compared her work to that of “slavery abolitionists,” claiming that “there is no disproportion between fighting against … vassal labour and fighting ‘to save the pre-born.’” Hawkins also has nonconformist views on contraception; she believes that the birth control tablet and IUD should be illegal and that some preventive methods are “carcinogenic.” Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood worker incited anti-abortion personality who promotes claims that paint the termination industry, quite Planned Parenthood, in a bad light. NPR did acknowledge that Planned Parenthood disputes “some of the sum of Johnson’s story,” but did not substantively explain the accurate details. For example, Johnson frequently promotes the articulate indicate that Planned Parenthood performs termination on people who aren’t pregnant, something medical professionals rebut would ever occur. Many of the events and claims around Johnson’s “conversion” story have been refuted by the media, but Johnson still pretends to be a whistleblower thereby stability to play a executive role in the anti-abortion movement. [NARAL Pro-Choice America, accessed January 2018; Media Matters5/2/17; The Washington Post, 1/21/14; Raw Story, 1/28/17; TheBlaze, 2/11/15; Rewire, 10/19/12; Slate, 1/7/10]

#3: Allowed a famous hatred organisation to distortion about a law safeguarding patients from feign health clinics

The Hill ran an op-ed from a famous hatred organisation to make an absurd comparison between the Mar for Life and a plea to a law meant to strengthen patients. On Jan 18, The Hill ran an op-ed clearly about the Mar for Life by James Gottry, authorised warn for the hatred organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). While the op-ed’s title referenced the Mar for Life, Gottry’s evidence centered on the arriving Supreme Court case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, in which ADF is representing NIFLA , a network overseeing several feign health clinics (also famous as predicament pregnancy centers). The case involves a plea to a California law which Gottry characterized as “a law which actually requires pro-life pregnancy centers to publicize for the termination industry” and forces the centers “to turn mouthpieces for the termination lobby.” According to Gottry, “pro-life pregnancy centers exist to offer unsentimental medical and non-medical caring that will support a woman’s choice to give birth.” Gottry tangentially connected his evidence about the case to the Mar for Life, arguing that the California law is like “forcing” people who show up for the Mar for Life “to lift signs in support of Planned Parenthood.” [The Hill, 1/18/18; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed January 2018; Media Matters, 11/29/17]

ADF is a famous hatred group, and feign health clinics mistreat entrance to termination care. The Hill promoted an op-ed from Gottry despite ADF’s standing as a famous hatred organisation with inclusive and deleterious change in the authorised and policy world. In doing so, The Hill gave Gottry a height to disseminate about ADF’s own case before the Supreme Court and embellished a rarely fake picture of feign health clinics as a result. The California law in doubt — the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency (FACT) Act — actually only requires (1) that protected medical clinics in California warning patients that California provides low-cost or free reproductive services, including termination or, (2) that unlawful clinics tell patients they are not protected clinics. Beyond the mischaracterization of the law, Gottry also abandoned the damaging inlet of feign health clinics which mostly use fake promotion suggesting that they yield termination or preventive services to captivate people seeking abortions into their clinics, when they do not yield or make referrals for either. Fake health clinics have also promoted anti-abortion articulate points and medical misinformation, such as the fake explain that termination affects flood or causes cancer in sequence to inhibit people from receiving it. [Media Matters, 12/28/17]

#4: Promoted the anti-abortion outlook that the transformation has scholarship on its side

Outlets promoted termination opponents’ articulate indicate that the anti-abortion transformation has scholarship on its side. On Jan 19, Fox News’ opinion page published an essay by Lauren DeBellis Appell about the Mar for Life that praised the anti-abortion transformation and pronounced it was “winning” in the United States since of technological advancements, including ultrasounds. This message likewise echoed during the Mar for Life speeches, including by U.S. House of Representative Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) who settled that the anti-abortion transformation has “truth” on its side. Christianity Today likewise quoted Denise Harle, authorised warn for ADF, as observant “science and record are on the side” privately in the context of the parable that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. Although worried outlets promoted this account in propinquity to the Mar for Life, there has been a incomparable trend among anti-abortion advocates attempting to adopt systematic justifications for anti-choice policies. As The Atlantic noted in a Jan 18 piece, the anti-abortion movement’s welcome of scholarship could be seen as a “dramatic reversal” as “pro-choice activists have prolonged claimed scholarship for their own side.” Demonstrating support for this perspective among anti-abortion groups, the Jan 18 essay was picked up by organizations such as the Mar for Life, Democrats for Life, and Lozier Institute. [Fox News, 1/19/18; Twitter, 1/23/18; Christianity Today, 1/19/18; The Atlantic, 1/18/18; Twitter, 1/19/18, 1/19/18, 1/22/18]

The anti-abortion transformation pushes pseudo-science policies, like 20-week termination bans and fake judgment of supposed “late-term” or “partial-birth” abortions. Some outlets unsuccessful to acknowledge that the transformation frequently pushes pseudo-science articulate points and legislation. In Oct 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a 20-week termination anathema that is formed on a myth, overwhelmingly unsupported by science, that fetuses can feel pain by 20 weeks in a pregnancy. Legislatures and worried media have also picked up the anti-abortion framing of supposed “partial-birth” abortion, which is not a medical term and was invented by anti-abortion groups to “foster a flourishing antithesis to abortion.” In Aug 2017, for example, The New York Times reported on claims by some anti-abortion groups that abortions can be topsy-turvy but delving entirely into how such claims are scientifically-based. The anti-abortion transformation has also promoted assertions that termination can lead to depression, suicide, cancer, and infertility — nothing of which has scientific-backing. [Media Matters, 10/2/17, 10/12/16, 8/29/17; The New England Journal of Medicine, 9/1/16; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist, March 2010; American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, October 2014; NPR, 2/21/06; The New York Times Magazine, 7/18/17; The New York Times, 8/10/17; The Guardian, 8/12/15]

#5: Promoted a check showing support for termination restrictions from an classification with anti-abortion beliefs

Politico promoted a check from the Knights of Columbus that claimed most Americans have anti-abortion viewpoints. As a preview to Trump’s Mar for Life speech, Politico reported on the administration’s anti-abortion policies one year into Trump’s presidency. In the Jan 17 article, Politico pointed to a check consecrated by the Knights of Columbus (described as “a Catholic fraternal organization” in the piece) and gathered by The Marist Poll which showed that “41 percent of abortion-rights respondents adored tying termination to the first 3 months of a pregnancy.” Politico used the information to disagree there was some-more support for restricting termination entrance than conventionally suspicion — a favorite anti-choice articulate point. [Politico, 1/17/18]

Reporting on termination polling should not only entirely exhibit anti-abortion connection with polls, it should note that polling on after termination is complicated. The annual Knights of Columbus check is a visit worried media articulate indicate on Fox News — mostly invoked by Shannon Bream, who has promoted polls from both 2016 and 2018. In all those instances, as in Politico’s January 17 article, the Knights of Columbus is not famous as a self-identified organisation “committed to fortifying the right to life” and one that has waged “a decades-long battle against termination legislation.” Politico also unsuccessful to excavate into the complications of termination polling over repeating comments from a Knights of Columbus representative that Trump’s anti-choice policies “track very, very good with where the American people are.” As Vox’s Sarah Kliff explained, “the open has different views on abortion” that can't orderly be separate into polarized answers to questions. Regarding abortions in after pregnancy, polling organisation PerryUndem described how “61% of adults contend they conflict permitting a lady to obtain a authorised termination after 24 weeks,” but “when given an instance of because a lady may try to entrance termination after 24 weeks, the commentary scarcely reverse: 59% support a lady receiving a authorised abortion.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 1/18/19; Media Matters, 1/22/16, 7/29/16; Knights of Columbus, accessed January 2018; Catholics for Choice, accessed January 2018; Vox, 4/8/15; PerryUndem, accessed January 2018]


Julie Tulbert is the Abortion Rights Reproductive Health Researcher at Media Matters for America. She has a J.D. from William Mary Law School and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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