Thursday, January 19, 2006
Spin, spin, spin: Check out these dueling headlines, subheads and introductory paragraphs on Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling in an abortion case.
First, The Washington Post:
Justices Send Back Parent-Notification Law
Lower Court Must Modify N.H. Abortion Measure Instead of Striking It Down
By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006; Page A08
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that federal judges should not have struck down an entire New Hampshire law that requires teenagers to notify their parents before having an abortion and ordered a lower court to come up with a more limited solution that would protect minors' health in emergencies.
The unanimous decision was written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and will probably be her final opinion on the high court. The justice, who has cast the decisive vote on abortion cases for more than two decades, is to step down after her successor is confirmed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. as her replacement, and his views on abortion could play a pivotal role in the vote.
The New Hampshire law, adopted in 2003, allows an exception to parental notification if a pregnant teenager's life is at risk but does not address whether the procedure may be performed if she faces other non-life-threatening health emergencies. Two federal courts in New England had said that omission makes the law unconstitutional, and it has never been enforced. The state of New Hampshire appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the court's precedents do not require an explicit health exception. The justices did not rule on that broad claim but did agree with New Hampshire yesterday "that the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale," as O'Connor put it.
And now, The New York Times:
Justices Reaffirm Emergency Access to Abortion
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
Published: January 19, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 - In its first ruling on an abortion case in six years, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision on Wednesday that reaffirmed the need to include an exception for medical emergencies in a law that restricts teenagers' access to abortion.
The decision told a lower court to reconsider its ruling that struck down, in its entirety, a New Hampshire law that fails to include such an exception. "We try to limit the solution to the problem," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in her opinion for the court, instructing the lower court to consider invalidating the law only as it applies to those few teenagers who need an immediate abortion for medical reasons.
"We do not revisit our abortion precedents today," Justice O'Connor declared in the opening words of what is likely to be her last opinion for the court. The studiously bland 10-page opinion carefully sidestepped the abortion debate that has been a prominent feature of public discourse about the court's future.
The Times is spinning this ruling. If the Supreme Court was simply doing what the Times claims in its headline and lead paragraph, then it would've declined to hear the case in the first place. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
If all you read was the Times you would be misled as to what really happened yesterday. Once again, the paper's liberal bias has bled into what are supposed to be straight news pages.
For those who believe that this sort of bias doesn't affect anyone except those subscribing to the Times, think again. The San Diego Union-Tribune's front page story on this case uses the Times coverage -- and I'm sure it's not the only one.