It's hard to have a discussion of any topic linked to abortion in the United States of America without starting debates about the basic facts -- especially when abortion is discussed in news reports by mainstream journalists.
It's hard to quote the most basic of facts -- the number of abortions in any give year -- without starting fights over the specifics. In part, this is because different kinds of statistics on this subject are released by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (with its history of complex ties to Planned Parenthood) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What happens when a story focuses on an ultra-controversial topic, such as the number of abortions that take place after an unborn child has, to one degree or another, reached the point of viability outside the mother's womb? At that point, it's especially crucial to be transparent about sources of information, with the clear attribution of sources.
I bring this up because of a hot-button passage in President Donald Trump's address to the 2018 March for Life, the one that stated:
As you all know Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions along with China North Korea and others. Right now, in a number of States, the laws allow a baby to be born [sic, aborted] from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.
It is wrong. It has to change.
I mentioned that quote in my GetReligion post on the day of the march, but didn't really discuss it because I assumed these controversial words would draw quite a bit of coverage in the mainstream press.
Well, I was wrong.
It's especially amazing that Trump's reference to this issue drew little mainstream news attention because of an embarrassing verbal stumble. The president (whose history with Planned Parenthood is complex, to say the least) noted that laws in some U.S. states "allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month." He clearly meant to say "aborted," instead of "born."
This reference was addressed in a long, detailed Washington Post "Acts of Faith" feature about the march. Readers were told: