Pro-Life Movement

Science meets the big questions: The Atlantic examines strategic changes in pro-life movement

Science meets the big questions: The Atlantic examines strategic changes in pro-life movement

This should have been the think piece for a week ago, timed to coincide with the March for Life and other related events that weekend. I guess that includes the March For Women, as well.

Lots to think about, when the calendar gets that crowded.

However, even a week later, readers have continued to alert me to yet another Emma Green feature at The Atlantic, this time with the headline, "Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost." I know that I often start these pieces with the actual overture from the piece, but that truly is the logical place to start this time around. So here goes.

The first time Ashley McGuire had a baby, she and her husband had to wait 20 weeks to learn its sex. By her third, they found out at 10 weeks with a blood test. Technology has defined her pregnancies, she told me, from the apps that track weekly development to the ultrasounds that show the growing child. “My generation has grown up under an entirely different world of science and technology than the Roe generation,” she said. “We’re in a culture that is science-obsessed.”
Activists like McGuire believe it makes perfect sense to be pro-science and pro-life. While she opposes abortion on moral grounds, she believes studies of fetal development, improved medical techniques, and other advances anchor the movement’s arguments in scientific fact. “The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus … is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have,” she said. “That’s been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so.” But, she added, “when you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping,” it becomes “harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable.”
Scientific progress is remaking the debate around abortion. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, the case that led the way to legal abortion, it pegged most fetuses’ chance of viable life outside the womb at 28 weeks; after that point, it ruled, states could reasonably restrict women’s access to the procedure. Now, with new medical techniques, doctors are debating whether that threshold should be closer to 22 weeks.

Now, this is a strong, fascinating piece -- as reader after reader has noted. However, I do have one critical observation.

 

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Colorado Springs motives? So far, one is clear: Pro-life pastor/officer died defending life

Colorado Springs motives? So far, one is clear: Pro-life pastor/officer died defending life

Faced with headlines about violence at an abortion facility, the late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York City took to the pulpit and, digging into the writings of the Catholic Catechism, Pope John Paul II and Gandhi, stated the obvious. Do you remember that very candid quote?

"If anyone has an urge to kill someone at an abortion clinic, they should shoot me," said the late Cardinal John O'Connor, preaching to his New York City flock in 1994. "It's madness. It discredits the right-to-life movement. Murder is murder. It's madness. You cannot prevent killing by killing."

The cardinal added, in an online forum:

"Where does this spiral end? How is it limited? Surely, we are all as tired of abortion as we are tired of murder. But we must fight murder without conforming to it or condoning it," wrote the cardinal. ... Let us attend to God's revelation: 'Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good' (Romans 12: 21).

Now, I bring this up as law officials in Colorado Springs begin the process of digging into the history of the man arrested as the gunman in the horrifying standoff at a Planned Parenthood. Apparently, Robert Lewis Dear has a previous criminal record.

And what about motive? Here is a recent update, as posted at The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Associated Press reports Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers says authorities aren't ready to discuss a possible motive of the gunman who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic there, but says people can make "inferences from where it took place."
Suthers says investigators have interviewed Dear, but that authorities still want to learn more about him, suggesting that his mental health was part of the investigation.

Now in this case, the tragic reality is that it is much easier to articulate the motives of the local police officer who was one of the first responders and lost his life in the fighting.

The officer's name: The Rev. Garrett Swasey.

Are you seeing that title -- "The Rev." -- in front of his name?

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Guns, the f-word (the other one), Disney, evangelicals and Denzel Washington, oh my

Guns, the f-word (the other one), Disney, evangelicals and Denzel Washington, oh my

What we got here is FAILURE to communicate.

That's a movie reference, you see, to one of the great religion-haunted films in the history of Hollywood. But never mind, I thought that might be a good place to start in a short post about some bizarre mangling of religious language in a piece by The Hollywood Reporter. I've been wanting to get to this one for some time now.

So there is this new documentary film called "The Armor of Light" and the key player behind it is one Abigail Disney. The trouble starts right in the epic double decker headline. See if you can follow this one:

Walt Disney Heiress Courts Evangelicals With Anti-Gun Movie
Well versed in her family's conservative politics, Abigail Disney discusses her new film 'The Armor of Light' (out Oct. 30), which tackles the gun controversy while also reaching out to fundamentalist Christians in a new way: "This film goes to them on their own terms, and they appreciate that."

OK, GetReligion readers already know that use of the term "fundamentalist" is very tricky, for journalists who have any intent of using religious language accurately or, well, paying any attention to the Associated Press Stylebook. As the bible of daily journalism notes:

"fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. ... However, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.
"In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself."

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NYTimes revisits high court's abortion buffer zone ruling

NYTimes revisits high court's abortion buffer zone ruling

In grading first-day coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Massachusetts abortion buffer zone law, I gave The New York Times a D.

My explanation for the near-failing grade:

The NYTimes’front-page story does an excellent job of explaining where the justices came down. But the Old Gray Lady shows her bias when it comes to reporting reactions to the decision, giving top billing — and much more space — to Planned Parenthood than the winning plaintiff.

The newspaper improved its performance — let's give it an A for enterprise and a B for overall content — with a second-day story out of Boston exploring what the Supreme Court decision means for both sides.

The NYTimesgives readers a firsthand view of a clinic where the yellow line no longer matters:

BOSTON — Lorraine Loewen, 74, says she comes here once a week to demonstrate against abortion outside of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts health care center.

On Friday, the morning after the Supreme Court struck down restrictions that had created no-protest buffer zones near abortion clinics, she stood inside the yellow line on the pavement that marked a 35-foot radius around the clinic’s entrance.

Ms. Loewen, a retiree from Dedham, Mass., approached a woman and a man who had climbed out of a taxi and were walking toward the clinic, which provides an array of sexual health services, including abortions, and spoke softly in the woman’s ear. She handed the woman a pamphlet depicting a woman’s face and the words, “It’s your choice.”

“I asked her if we could be of any help,” Ms. Loewen said, adding that she preferred talking close up with the people going to the clinic rather than yelling at them from outside the line.

On Friday, Ms. Loewen and a handful of other demonstrators were among the first anti-abortion activists, as a few police officers looked on and a volunteer escort stood ready to bring patients inside the clinic.

From there, the story offers brief background on the high court ruling and then turns to a long section outlining concerns of state officials and abortion-rights advocates who favored the buffer zone law.

The NYTimes allows one couple to complain anonymously about the protesters:

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Big news report card: Grading abortion buffer zone coverage

As my GetReligion colleague Jim Davis highlighted this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Massachusetts abortion buffer zone law. News junkie that I am, I enjoyed perusing today’s front pages and searching Google News to see how various news organizations handled the story.

Using my media critic’s prerogative, I decided to grade some of the coverage.

My major criteria: First, how fully did a particular story cover the important details — including the court’s majority and minority opinions, the reactions by the parties involved in the case and the responses by activists on both sides of the abortion debate? Second, how fairly did the story treat all sides?

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Concerning that Milbank column and the WPost news report

First of all, to those who have written or tweeted on this: Yes, your GetReligionistas saw the Dana Milbank column in The Washington Post, the one in which he goes all Pat Robertson on the March For Life faithful. You know, like this: James Dobson’s Focus on the Family asked Christians to pray for rain to fall on Barack Obama in 2008 when he accepted the presidential nomination. Various religious conservatives have said that hurricanes, earthquakes and other meteorological phenomena were divine punishment of wayward humans.

So what are we to make of Wednesday’s March for Life on the Mall in Washington? The temperature was 12 degrees at the start of the annual antiabortion event, the wind chill below zero, and participants were trudging about in snow and ice from the previous day’s storm. …

(If) there are weather gods, they may have been making a pointed comment about a movement that has become frozen in time.

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Religion ghosts in the politics of abortion? Obviously ...

A GetReligionista will write a post about media bias in mainstream coverage of abortion (click here for that classic series on this topic by the late David Shaw, media-beat reporter for The Los Angeles Times) and then someone will post a comment saying that abortion is a political, not a religious, issue and that this site should stick to religion. Often, these correspondents will note that the only people who think abortion is a religious issue are crazy fundamentalists and radical Catholics, etc., etc. — an observation that does little to help make their case. Truth is, lots of people oppose abortion for different reasons. Tomorrow’s annual March For Life will draw thousands of Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox Jews and the usual suspects. However, those paying close attention will also see banners for pro-life atheists and agnostics, as well as the Pro-Life Alliance for Gays and Lesbians (“Human Rights Start When Life Begins”). Marchers will show up from Feminists For Life, Democrats For Life, Libertarians For Life and a host of other groups from off the beaten journalistic path.

However, it is safe to say that the majority of the marchers will be there for reasons that are based, in part, on their religious convictions. In the United States of America, and lots of other places, that is the statistical reality.

Thus, it was rather strange to see such a faith-free approach used in that New York Times story that ran under the headline, “Parties Seize On Abortion Issues in Midterm Race.” As a reader noted, in an email to this site:

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To protest abortion coverage, a #MarchOnMedia

Yesterday I found out about protest against the media’s coverage of abortion. It’s called March On The Media and the band of protesters will go to ABC News studios in Washington, D.C. to demand better news coverage.

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NPR misses the symbolism -- and reality -- of Jane Roe

NPR had a story on the Texas legislature passing what journalists usually call “sweeping abortion restrictions.” Let’s look at a big chunk of the story right at the top:

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