Bloomberg’s totally unbiased abortion story

The best construction I can put on the article we’re about to look at is that Bloomberg editors and reporters accidentally put an abortion rights op-ed in the news section by accident. And yet there are enough things about the piece that make it seem like it was a failed attempt at a news story to make me think otherwise.

The op-ed article begins:

At least 58 U.S. abortion clinics — almost 1 in 10 — have shut or stopped providing the procedure since 2011 as access vanishes faster than ever amid a Republican-led push to legislate the industry out of existence.

I read that, assumed the media professional who submitted it had accidentally flagged a particularly histrionic op-ed (as sometimes happens), and looked for the name of the Planned Parenthood official or other abortion rights supporter who had penned it. One expects to see such bias in ideological media, but one would hope for more impartiality among people claiming to be news writers. I’ll note way up top that the story does not substantiate the lede. There’s no way it could, to be honest. But, hey, other than that problem …

I’ll also note, up top, that if you want to work for one type of political campaign, practice writing “access” as much as possible. However, that word is a really weak word to use for news writing.

More generally, I find the anti-regulatory bias of this piece just fascinating. I’m trying to imagine a mainstream media report about another industry that had a bunch of health and safety problems. Many dozens of reports of legal, health and safety violations all across the country. Including, say, a major practitioner in that industry being convicted of serial murder of very young children and horrible treatment of customers. Urine. Blood-soaked instruments. Narrow hallways that prevented evacuation of dying customers. That sort of thing. And then imagine that legislatures passed stricter regulations for same. Then imagine that some of the regulated parties were unable to or chose not to meet the basic standards required of other similar outfits.

Do you think the lede would be about how awful the regulators were? Of course not! One might even expect to see a story about how awful it was that the regulated industry was unable to meet basic standards of care or health or safety.

Anyway, the entire story is something of a mess, but let’s just look at the next few sentences:

A wave of regulations that makes it too expensive or logistically impossible for facilities to remain in business drove at least a third of the closings. Demographic changes, declining demand, industry consolidation, doctor retirements and crackdowns on unfit providers were also behind the drop. More clinics in Texas and Ohio are preparing to shut as soon as next month.

Opponents have tried to stop access to abortion through civil disobedience, blockades and legal action. Clinics were bombed and doctors killed.

Again, such a fascinating opposite-day spin on meeting health and safety regulations. Unfortunately there’s not substantiation in terms of data to support the claim that meeting the same standards as other outpatient surgical centers do is somehow impossible. Perhaps that’s why the second line is added. More use of the word “access”! I’m trying to think of some way to respond to “clinics were bombed and doctors killed” but I won’t insult the reader’s intelligence. We all know that this hackish and unprofessional. Particularly for an article about safety and health regulations at abortion clinics that somehow doesn’t mention Kermit Gosnell …. once. Literally not once. No mention of the charges against him. The grand jury report. The convictions for murder.

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AP’s abominable (but familiar) abortion approach

So I guess the Associated Press’ reportorial staff in Texas is on vacation this week. Good for them! I hope they’re having a great time. Not good for news consumers, though, as AP coverage of the Texas legislature couldn’t be worse right now.

Take this four-paragraph, six-sentence story published on USA Today that began:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans armed with Bible verses have given preliminary approval to some of the strictest abortion regulations in the country as time runs out on the Texas special legislative session.

What in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks does this mean? I have no idea. I have no idea what being “armed” with Bible verses means. The remaining five sentences don’t tell us. They also don’t tell us what the Bible verses are. Neither do we learn why in the world Bible verses were mentioned in this “news” report. Or what Democrats were armed with.

You’ll also note, of course, the perennial approach of referring to legislation regarding abortion in terms of “restriction” as opposed to “protection.” This is done so frequently that I doubt that reporters are even aware, at this point, of the built-in bias.

You’ll note the lack of any mention of Dr. Kermit Gosnell or various other doctors in the abortion industry who operate unsanitary, unsafe or dangerous clinics.

Or what about this AP story?

(AUSTIN, Texas) – More than 800 women’s rights protesters crowded into the Texas Capitol on Sunday to watch Democrats try a series of parliamentary maneuvers to stop the Republican majority from passing some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country.

Um, where to begin? How about with the fact that women are just as likely to be pro-life as pro-choice? Is that a good start? Do you think pro-life women would be surprised to find out that the Associated Press views them as hostile to women’s rights?

Or maybe the Associated Press could explain to us why wanting safer abortion clinics, or more sanitary abortion clinics, or less dangerous abortion clinics — such as the ones the media have reluctantly, if ever, covered — makes you anti-women’s rights. I’d really love to know.

Or what if you are really into the right to life for all women, born and unborn? Could the Associated Press explain to us why that makes one anti-women’s rights?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that abortion rights activists prefer to identify themselves as pro-women’s rights and those who support unborn children’s right to life as not. I get that. And I fully expect to see such labels used in, say, Mother Jones and other ideological press.

But unless the Associated Press is coming out as partisans in this debate, this is inappropriate bias for a hotly-contested story about a bill sponsored by … a female Texan who has talked about this legislation in the context of how it benefits women as well as the children growing in their wombs. Again, one might personally agree with one side or the other, but the story should not take sides.

Let’s go ahead and look at the next line in the story:

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