Medium opines on training of young abortionists, but is there another point of view missing?


The publishing platform Medium is a social journalism site started in 2012 by a co-founder of Twitter. It makes no visible attempt to be objective on culture wars issues and thus inhabits a left-leaning focus stemming, no doubt, from the millennials who run the site.

I began getting it in my mailbox several years ago and was fascinated with its curated content. I liked all the reporting on offbeat topics I couldn’t read about elsewhere, especially the astronomy pieces.

Unfortunately, it has little to nothing on religion and certainly nothing that looks on it favorably. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see an article by a freelancer on a “new generation” of abortionists moving up the ranks. He actually used the term “abortionists;” that's a wording I’ve never seen in left-of-center milieux. 

A sign in the lobby of the Philadelphia hotel read:
Please enjoy your day!
Meanwhile, in the ballroom upstairs, a significant portion of America’s current and future abortion providers were eating breakfast. The fake-out sign was one of multiple security measures, but the atmosphere at the Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) national conference still hummed with energy. Over the course of a day and a half, 450-plus medical students tried to absorb as much information as possible about providing abortions, information that -- depending on where they go to school -- can be extremely difficult to get…

Would this, I wondered, be another “Handmaid’s Tale”-tinged fear piece about the specter of a Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination that will take abortion back to the back alleys? Also, for GetReligion, there is this question: Will this story deal with any of the religious and ethical questions that haunt this line of work?

Well, the accompanying art of jacketed doctors and one female patient in a somber corridor with a flashlight seemed to be speaking to a nouvelle regime of enlightened doctors trying to find their way through the darkness  of a post-Roe vs. Wade future.

There are approximately 1,700 abortionists working in the United States -- about the same number as active NFL players, and a small fraction compared to the 10,000-plus orthodontists. Because abortion reporting isn’t mandatory in all states, exact numbers on procedures performed aren’t available, but most estimates put the current annual total between 650,000 and 750,000. ...
Attacks on doctors have slowed as the anti-abortion-rights movement switched tactics from terrorism to legislation, and public approval has stayed relatively constant since Roe v. Wade, with around 80 percent of Americans in favor of legal abortion in some or all cases. 

Really? The Pew Forum says the true number is 57 percent. A Gallup poll puts it at closer to 60 percent. Eighty percent is wishful thinking.

Then the piece slips into agitprop. The opposition is de-personalized by calling them “antis” and “terrorists.” Deciding slain abortionist George Tiller is a “martyr” is definitely a stretch as is labeling terminated pregnancies “products of conception.”

C’mon folks, you can do better, if the goal is describing the actual debates in America.

If they were to voice their doubts or speak about more complicated cases, providers would risk falling into a series of traps built by their opponents. When they reveal details  --  even in an effort to destigmatize the procedure -- antis paint the grossest particulars on protest signs. When they criticize their industry’s practices or history -- or even allude to the existence of an “abortion industry” -- they find their own words waved at them like weapons.”

But the article admits -- in a roundabout way -- there is an ick factor to it all.

The writer doesn't go into the assembling of parts after womb evacuation; the beating heart that stops; the human appearance of the fetus in the aborted “gestational sac.” 

In fact, the latter isn’t true, the writer says.

As the only group eager to talk about specifics, antis have defined abortion in the public imagination. But compared to the “baby-killing” picture Americans of all ideological positions have internalized to a certain degree, the tools are incredibly small. The smallness of the cannula, for example, presents a problem for anti-abortion propagandists, who insist on depicting products of conception as having visibly human features, rather than the actual pearl-sized cell clusters they are.

OK, they are pearl-sized clusters for a time, but they do grow into something bigger if left alone, right?

Certainly there must be some moral questions; some doubts among the practitioners, but those aren’t talked about here. Religion is referred to off-handedly as the grossest thought control. When describing one provider, we hear:

“… dodging Christian fundamentalists while flying around the country helping women in need is, depending on the audience, superheroic.”

Hey, these folks are interesting and they're not happy that the public imagination is not in their favor. Welcome to what the "antis" have been up against since 1973. For Medium and similar platforms, is the opposing point of view so onerous that it can’t be given any voice at all? Are readers so triggered by the opposition?

We at GetReligion talk about “ghosts;” which are religion questions or points of view that are simply missing in an article. This piece is haunted with them.

Thomas Jefferson said the cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate, so the place of journalism is to give voice to both sides. Articles that don’t are doing public relations or editorials. But such writing is not journalism, at least not traditional journalism based on what historians often call the American model of the press.

Faced with eliminationist aggression from the Christian right and malignant neglect from the medical establishment, the number of facilities that average more than 400 abortions a year has been dwindling since the ’80s, from a high of 705 to 535 at the last published count (from 2014). But if there’s one countervailing trend, it’s who’s wearing the stethoscope.
When Roe passed, women made up fewer than 10 percent of medical graduates; now, they’re almost at parity, with 85 percent of OB/GYN rotations. In a 2011 survey, millennial OB/GYNs were far more likely than older doctors to say they provide abortions. 

This no great surprise, in that millennials are the ones most affected by abortion legislation.

So, OK, we now know the necessity of having abortionists available. Is Medium now going to search about for a writer who can research the “antis” and find a likable story among them? How about Lila Rose, a millennial who has done ground-breaking work exposing Planned Parenthood clinics? Agree with her or not, she would make one heck of a story.

But that's assuming the outlet wants to portray more than one side. At Medium, it appears likely that this won't happen.

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