Saturday, February 28, 2004
Reporting on abortion: My senior project at Cal Poly SLO was a content analysis of the Los Angeles Times coverage of the abortion issue. My findings confirmed those of Times reporter David Shaw who also did an extensive report on abortion coverage in the major media.
In short, when covering abortion:
The media is more likely to quote "pro-choice" advocates first, and more often.
When a story is on the front page, very often the pro-life quotes are far enough down in the story that they are on the jump -- which far fewer people read.
Newspapers (at that time -- 1990) were more likely to use the labels "pro-choice" and "abortion opponents." Using the preferred terminology of those they ideologically supported and an accurate, but more neutral term for those they opposed.
That brief review of abortion coverage was prompted by this article in Saturday's Union-Tribune on the federal government's subpoena of medical records of late-term abortions.
The article quotes:
Spokeswoman from Planned Parenthood
President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside counties
An attorney for Planned Parenthood.
A Justice Department spokeswoman (who basically says "no comment")
A law professor who observes that the subpoena is relevant to the lawsuit and privacy concerns can easily be satisfied.
The article, while interesting, is missing a big something. The "why". Why is the government asking for this information? There is no effort made to answer that question -- mainly because the only source of that information (with the government refusing to talk) would be a pro-life voice. That could have provided is some context that is missing in this article.
If you read the entire article, you get no hint of what the government is trying to prove by subpoenaing these records. The government's case is based upon the premise that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary. That's why they want these records.
The telling thing is that if the procedure was medically necessary, then Planned Parenthood would be using them (with names and other identifying information redacted) in their case.