A detour through some good reporting on life issues

Because I’ve been so critical of the way abortion is routinely covered in the mainstream media, I wanted to quickly highlight two recent stories that were different. One of the points that activist Lila Rose has made in her criticism is that the media needs to tell positive stories related to the sanctity of human life. One criticism I’ve made in the past is how the media have completely failed to explain the ethical or religious concerns related to assisted reproductive technology.

A reader passed along this story originally out of KCCI but also posted on CNN.com. It’s about a family that adopted embryos that were left over from IVF treatments. The couple in question are religious, although their religious views aren’t explored in the story. He’s a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is mentioned in the story. But just telling a simple story that involves the fact, oddly obscured, about how IVF treatments routinely create embryos that are never implanted, and about how people can gestate these young humans, is a big story and one that should be told. Link to the CNN story here. I can’t figure out how to embed it.

A sample:

Reporter: But last year, the dad who doubles as a pastor got a  prayer request that stumped him.

Pastor Luke Timm: Pray for this couple. They’ve adopted an embryo. And I went – ‘what is that?’

Reporter: He found after couples go through in-vitro fertilization, many have leftover embryos they don’t want to just throw away.

Joni Timm: There are lots and lots of embryos out there waiting for a chance at life.

The second story is a simple profile of two lobbyists in the abortion fight.

Teri Huyck is president and CEO of Milwaukee Planned Parenthood. Barbara Lyons is the executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life. The story notes their similarities and differences and presents the information in a balanced way. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Huyck joined Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin on an interim basis in 2008 to help turn around the then-financially struggling organization. Previously, she had been with Planned Parenthood of Chicago for nine years, eventually becoming its chief operating officer.

She liked Wisconsin and the people she worked with, and Planned Parenthood leaders liked her. So she stayed. Her base compensation in 2011 was $242,340, according to tax records.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has annual revenue of $26 million and employs around 220 people. It serves around 70,000 patients yearly at 23 health centers, providing an array of services, including annual exams, birth control, cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2011, Planned Parenthood performed 4,635 abortions. Overall that year, there were 7,249 induced abortions in Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Health Services. Abortions in the state have declined significantly since 1980, when 21,754 were recorded.

Over the course of her long career, Lyons transformed herself from a stay-at-home-mom into arguably the most influential voice against abortion in Wisconsin. She started as a legislative director with Wisconsin Right to Life in 1977 and became the executive director in 1987. She received $62,083 in base compensation in 2011, tax records show.

Wisconsin Right to Life is the primary lobbying and education group opposed to abortion in the state. Its power comes from an ability to marshal thousands of motivated supporters across the state to influence legislation, policy and elections. The group’s endorsement can make or break candidates in Republican primaries.

Wisconsin Right to Life reported spending $43,730 on lobbying in the 2011-’12 legislative session while Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin spent $241,309, according to a report by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

The center also reported that since mid-2008, political committees run by Wisconsin Right to Life as well as another group, Pro Life Wisconsin, spent around $150,000 on state political campaigns compared with $1.3 million by Planned Parenthood Advocates.

It’s interesting. That is such easily available information but I had no idea that Planned Parenthood spent so much money lobbying at the state level. It would be really interesting for a reporter to compare the national muscle of Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups with the muscle of National Right to Life and other anti-abortion groups.

The story is actually much more personal and interesting than the snippet I put up there. We get to know more about Lyons and Huyck, including Lyons’ religious views and background.

But the key is that the story is just very fair. We learn a little bit about the one and then the other. We see similar life events and dissimilar reactions to same. It’s just a nicely done story. See, it can be done!

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  • Philmonomer

    With regard to the two lobbyists story, I wonder why the article doesn’t include the annual operating budget and number of employees of Wisconsin Right to Life?

    I don’t think there is some sinister motive here, it is just that the article emphasizes the parallelism so much, this information seems missing.


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