This is a lede to a New York Times story that ran this past weekend. The article is headlined, oddly, “Politicians Open Front on Abortion in Bay Area“:
SAN FRANCISCO — Seeking to stem what they call misleading advertising, San Francisco officials on Tuesday began a two-pronged attack on “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are billed as places for pregnant women to get advice, but often use counseling to discourage abortions.
Yes. Scare quotes for “crisis pregnancy centers.” Scare quotes! Now, is this a reflection of how sensitive the New York Times is to euphemisms in the “abortion” wars? And I’m not just wondering about the use of the euphemism “abortion,” the word we now use to describe the intentional killing of an unborn child. What does the New York Times do when it’s talking about “family planning”? Do we get scare quotes there? No.
Does anyone in the story question whether these centers serve women facing “crisis pregnancies”? No, not at all.
The news writer reveals his bias in the last phrase. These places are billed as places for pregnant women to get advice but they discourage abortion.
So advising women carrying children that abortion might not be their best option and that there are, in fact, other options for women facing unplanned pregnancies — options that the pro-life movement is frequently criticized for supposedly not offering, such as adoption, financial assistance, employment counseling and the like — is not “advice”? (I recently met a man who adopted all three of his daughters from women who had given birth to them after visiting his local crisis pregnancy center.)
Now, I am fully aware that the pro-choice movement has declared war on these crisis pregnancy centers. In the face of many legislative successes for the pro-life movement, this is the front on which they’re attempting to have some successes of their own. And that’s a really important story and one that needs covering. New York City passed a law in conjunction with NARAL efforts this past spring that would have required crisis pregnancy centers to disclose more information about their services but a federal judge blocked its enforcement a few weeks ago, saying it violated free speech rights, was motivated chiefly by politics, and risked discriminatory enforcement.
The story of this front in the abortion wars is important but it should be told with straight up news reporting, not something using language where we redefine “advice” to mean something that pro-life people are incapable of providing.