Susan B. Anthony List

Dog bites abortion critic: New York Times goes behind the scenes with Roe v. Wade opponents

Dog bites abortion critic: New York Times goes behind the scenes with Roe v. Wade opponents

There's a journalistic adage that a dog biting a man isn't news.

But what about when a dog bites an abortion opponent?

I'm being facetious.

However, a canine chomping his teeth into a 24-year-old law student is just one of the revealing details in the New York Times' recent front-page story on Indiana anti-abortion canvassers. More on the dog bite (fortunately, the victim has a sense of humor about it) in a moment.

First, though, the big picture: This concise, nicely told feature by religion writer Elizabeth Dias goes behind the scenes of what the Times characterizes as "the Ground Game to Reverse Roe v. Wade."

The talented Dias does an exceptional job of painting what feels, to me, like an authentic picture of these activists:

AVON, Ind. — Armed with sunscreen, doorknob fliers and a mission 50 years in the making, the team of activists sporting blue “I Vote Pro-Life” T-shirts fanned out into a web of cul-de-sacs in a subdivision just west of Indianapolis, undeterred by towering rain clouds and 90-degree heat.

It was exactly a week after President Trump had named Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to be his nominee for the Supreme Court, and the group was joking that they had a new sport: Extreme Canvassing.

In short surveys, the teams ask voters about their hopes for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation and their opposition to abortion funding. Canvassers have knocked at nearly 1.2 million homes nationwide in recent months, and by November, they are slated to reach their goal of 2 million.

“Whenever I’m feeling tired, I say, ‘I’m doing it for the babies,’” said Kaiti Shannon, 19, as she consulted a mobile app to determine which porch with wind chimes to approach.

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Seeking complex reactions to latest Pope Francis ink? Head over to Crux, not New York Times

Seeking complex reactions to latest Pope Francis ink? Head over to Crux, not New York Times

So Pope Francis has spoken, once again. This time we are talking about an apostolic exhortation -- Gaudete et Exsultate ("Rejoice and Be Glad") -- that includes pastoral comments aimed at Catholics in general, but also specific shots at his critics on the doctrinal right.

So let's say that you are looking for news coverage that includes voices on both sides of the Pope Francis debate. You want to hear from people who have just been attacked by the pope. You also want to hear from doctrinal conservatives, as well as liberals, who embrace what the pope had to say, or who see his message as consistent with that of other recent popes.

So, where do you look for coverage that does more than -- let's be honest -- serve as a public-relations office for Pope Francis?

Do you choose a website that specifically focuses on Catholic news or do you turn to America's most powerful newsroom, a newspaper that in the past has been highly critical of Catholic leaders?

That's a trick question, right? In this case, you want to check out Crux to get complex reactions to this apostolic exhortation, while The New York Times gives readers all Francis, all of the time (with zero input or information from critics of this pope).

Which newsroom showed the most independence from the papal powers that be? That would be (drum roll please) the website for a Catholic audience. It's also interesting to note which report framed this document primarily in political terms. Here's the overture at the Times ("Pope Francis Puts Caring for Migrants and Opposing Abortion on Equal Footing").

VATICAN CITY -- Caring for migrants and the poor is as holy a pursuit as opposing abortion, Pope Francis declared in a major document issued by the Vatican on Monday morning.
Pushing back against conservative critics within the church who argue that the 81-year-old pope’s focus on social issues has led him to lose sight of the true doctrine, Pope Francis again cast himself, and the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, in a more progressive light.

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Hey journalists: Name a mainstream pro-life leader who didn't pound Trump the other day

Hey journalists: Name a mainstream pro-life leader who didn't pound Trump the other day

OK, raise your hands if you are surprised that Citizen Donald Trump appears to have had zero serious contact with the Right to Life movement, in either its conservative or progressive forms.

Ironically, the main people who know how tone-deaf he is on life issues are people who are actually in the movement. People outside the movement may actually think that Trump's verbal misadventures on MSNBC the other day raised edgy and important issues.

So here is another way of looking at this: Raise your hands if you are surprised that the Associated Press team put someone on this story who appears to have had zero contact with the pro-life movement and, thus, had no idea what that movement actually believes on issues linked to women who have had abortions?

Check out the top of this stunningly unbalanced -- the word "blind" would be a kind way of stating things -- AP report on the Trump fiasco:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Frustrated Republicans grappled with new fears about Donald Trump's impact on their party Wednesday, as the billionaire businessman's campaign rivals targeted his punitive plan for fighting abortion and extraordinary defense of his campaign manager, who police say assaulted a female reporter.
Concern rippled through Republican circles nationwide, yet few dared criticize the GOP front-runner directly when pressed, leery of confronting the man who may well lead their election ticket in November.
Their silence underscored the deep worries plaguing the party's leaders -- particularly its most prominent women -- who are growing increasingly concerned that a Trump presidential nomination could not only cost the 2016 election but also tarnish the party brand for a generation of women and young people.

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Why is The Atlantic surprised that early pro-lifers were, uh, liberals?

Why is The Atlantic surprised that early pro-lifers were, uh, liberals?

It always amuses me when a large magazine discovers something about the religious world or culture wars issues that many of us have known about for decades.

Recently, the Atlantic made the surprise discovery that the pro-life movement had some liberal founders. The piece, by Emma Green, is actually a book review of “Defenders of the Unborn,” by University of West Georgia professor Daniel Williams. You may remember Williams from his 2012 book “God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right.” This time around, he’s come out with a tome reminding people that it was the left that first opposed abortion.

The Atlantic's treatment has considerable less snark than a similar New York Times review last month that assumed readers were liberals who can't imagine how someone reasonable could oppose abortion. But it does have some gaps. It starts thus:

Ronald Reagan. Barry Goldwater. George Wallace. These men probably won’t be featured on pro-choice pamphlets any time soon, but during at least some point in their political careers, the Moral Majority-era president, conservative stalwart, and infamous segregationist all favored the legalization of abortion. In the four decades since the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade, the political debate over abortion in America has become stale and polarized, with two sides utterly divided and little change in public opinion. But in the years leading up to Roe, many people’s views on abortion didn’t fit neatly into either liberal or conservative ideology. In fact, early anti-abortion activists viewed their cause as a struggle for civil and human rights, of a piece with social programs like the New Deal and the Great Society.
In a new book, "Defenders of the Unborn," the historian Daniel K. Williams looks at the first years of the self-described pro-life movement in the United States, focusing on the long-overlooked era before Roe. It’s somewhat surprising that the academy hasn’t produced such a history before now, although Williams says that’s partially because certain archives have only recently opened. But the gap in scholarship is also partly due to the difficulty of putting abortion into a single intellectual framework.

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Did Satan cast a spell on Associated Press copy desk?

Over the past decade, more and more hoops fanatics have decided that ESPN is ruining college basketball and even the development of young players in the NBA. What does this have to do with that horrid Associated Press story (original text still online at The Washington Post) about the Susan B. Anthony List fundraising dinner? Hang on. I promise I will get to that shortly.

That anti-ESPN theory states that young hoops gods are now so interested in getting their slam dunks and fancy passes into the ESPN Top 10 plays of the day that they are failing to develop their skills in other crucial elements of the game. They want that bright moment on video and, in the long run, it’s hurting their cause.

Now, that’s what I think was going on with those pro-abortion-rights supporters last year in Austin, the ones who started chanting “Hail, Satan!” in an attempt to drown out the people who were singing “Amazing Grace” at their rally in favor of equal rights for unborn females (and males too, for that matter).

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