deptheader-editorialsHow journalism reports on lies and abortion

The New York Times took the unprecedented step of deciding to use the word “lie” in headlines when referring to Donald Trump’s repeated misstatements. The decision received some criticism from other established media that argued a lie implies intent, and we can’t discern motive. However, when a misstatement is repeated over and over despite being disproven, there is clearly intent, and a misstatement can accurately be labeled a lie.

One of the basic tenets of journalism has been to cover both sides of an issue, but when one side argues based on lies, the formula needs to be rethought. The ultimate goal of journalism is to report the truth as far as it can be determined.

Local media coverage of the rally outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Knoxville Avenue on Feb. 11 is a good case in point.

A man who was part of the anti-choice group was quoted in some coverage contending he believes in the Bible, and the Bible says abortion is wrong. This is not true. The Bible does not say abortion is wrong. In fact, religions around the world have positions that affirm abortion is a woman’s personal and moral choice.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has affirmed abortion is a human right and has called on governments and states (such as Texas and Indiana) to repeal restrictions on abortion.

“Criminalization of abortion and failure to provide adequate access to services for termination of an unwanted pregnancy are forms of discrimination based on sex,” the committee said in a joint statement.

“Restrictive legislation which denies access to safe abortion is one of the most damaging ways of instrumentalizing women’s bodies and a grave violation of women’s human rights. The consequences for women are severe, with women sometimes paying with their lives.”

Back to the Peoria rally, one of the organizers of the movement to defund Planned Parenthood said the organization is dishonest and traffics in fetal body parts. Not true. The origins of this allegation stem from an illegally taped video that was highly edited to deliberately distort the truth. More than a dozen states launched investigations and found no evidence of illegal tissue harvesting and sales.

Planned Parenthood provides many critical health care services including HIV and STD testing, pregnancy tests, cancer screenings, birth control and other reproductive health care. Sixty percent of the clients nationwide are poor women on Medicaid. Other health care clinics do not have the ability to pick up this added volume if Planned Parenthood would be defunded. So efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are geared to denying poor women access to basic reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Peoria does not perform abortions.

Bottom line, Planned Parenthood saves lives and respects the basic human right of all women regardless of economic status to access basic reproductive health care.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but opinions should be based on facts, research and carefully analyzed positions, not talking points repeated over and over again despite being disproven.

Similarly, public policy should be based on facts, research and carefully analyzed positions.


• Pregnancy related deaths nearly doubled in Texas between 2010 and 2011 after the state cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

• Declining rates of abortion in the United States are linked to increased access to contraception, but half of all pregnancies in the country are still unintended.

• Restrictions on access to abortion and contraception are most severe for poor and low-income women.

• Woman are pushed to late-term abortions because of clinic closings and difficulty finding access to clinics farther from their homes; longer wait times, poverty, violence and chaos in their lives.

Fact-based public policy:

Increase federal and state funding to Planned Parenthood in order to reduce the number of abortions and help poor and low-income women plan their pregnancies. Anything else is a violation of women’s basic human rights.    (Clare Howard)

See Community Word’s coverage of the Feb. 11 rally outside Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria:

1 comment for “

  1. March 1, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Great editorial.

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