Routine reporting by mainstream media journalists shows they rarely ask tough questions of abortion advocates, or of the women who seek abortions and can’t get them as easily as they would like.
A notable example is a Washington Post story published last week in which reporter Evelyn Nieves laments that the state of South Dakota has only one abortion clinic, which provides services just one day per week. That’s because the right-to-life movement in the state has been so successful, that no practitioners are willing to live under the “abortion doctor” stigma there. So the sole clinic, in Sioux Falls, must import doctors from Minnesota once weekly to do the procedures.
Because of those limitations, according to the Post, the obstacles faced by women who want to rid themselves of their pregnancies include: “a long slog” from places like Rapid City, about 350 miles away; no public funding for the $450 procedure, “even in the case of rape or incest,” even though South Dakota is “home to some of the poorest counties in the country;” and some patients coming from long distances “had to bring their young children because they could not get child care.”
Having established her sympathies, Nieves paints the picture of a hopeless trend as South Dakota reverts to the dark ages of minimal abortions.
“Women in the western side of the state don’t think about abortion until they need to, and then they’re completely shocked that there’s no way to receive that care unless they go to Sioux Falls,” said Kate Looby, state director for Planned Parenthood.
That quote is typical of the mainstream media’s starting point: that abortion is a “need,” characterizing it as “care” rather than as an optional service. Nieves doesn’t bother to explain what kind of prenatal and obstetric “care” — not to mention adoption, religious and social services — that do exist in the rest of South Dakota. That’s because presenting those alternatives would cloak the “easy abortion” agenda of the Post.
And who are the women Nieves mentions that are deprived of an easy abortion? One, already with a two-year-old daughter, traversed the 350 miles from Rapid City in order to take a RU-486 pill after 45 days of pregnancy. The 23-year-old woman, who works full time and attends college part time, said she got an abortion because “I can’t afford another child, and I need to finish school and work to support the one I got.”
Another supposed hardship case, Nieves reported, was a 29-year-old teacher who got pregnant “while using birth control with her boyfriend of a few months” who “said she was not ready for a child and neither was he.” Her town is 90 miles from Sioux Falls.
“She found out she was pregnant at seven weeks,” Nieves reported, “and had to wait two weeks for the abortion because the clinic’s schedule conflicted with her work schedule.”
So these are the dire circumstances that result from the limited availability of an elective procedure: scheduling conflicts, distance traveling, and a lack of childcare, just because you want to easily excise your fetus. If these are really such unreasonable obstacles in the pursuit of “choice,” the media also ought to express outrage when women — and men — have difficulty obtaining other unique medical procedures.
But those considerations are beyond mainstream reporters’ capacity to think beyond their own liberal reasoning. It’s also what prevents them from asking any challenging questions of the women who seek an abortion. Here is what I might have asked the two women if I was in Nieves’s position:
“As a 23-year-old mother working full time and going to school part time, you say you lack the resources to care for another child. How is it then that you have the time and energy to carry on a sexual relationship with a man, especially when you have learned already that it can lead to pregnancy?”
“As a 29-year-old teacher with a college education, how is it you didn’t know that birth control isn’t foolproof? Also, you say you and your boyfriend aren’t ready for a child. Should every child conceived by parents who deem themselves ‘not ready’ be subject to being aborted?”
For both women: “Why should taxpayers fund an objectionable remedy for the results of your poor choices?” “Why must the public facilitate a procedure that even most advocates say they want to keep ‘safe, legal, and rare’?” “Why should the public assure you of more abortion providers, when it will only serve as an incentive for more widespread sexual carelessness?”
But those questions are out of the question for mainstream reporters, because they require moral evaluations about behavior and consequences. It’s easier instead to wail about South Dakota’s constraining laws regarding abortion and the inconvenience they impose.