The mainstream media typically offers little in the way of interesting commentary on sanctity of life issues. Sunday’s New York Times editorial by Dorothy Samuels, a member of The New York Times editorial board and former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, is certainly no exception. The whole commentary reads like a NARAL or Planned Parenthood press release. Throughout the editorial Samuels bemoans the incremental progress that pro-lifers have made at both state and federal level and encourages supporters of legal abortion to become more active.
In her op-ed, Samuels deems five particular pieces of pro-life legislation the “most harmful.” These are 1) waiting periods, 2) informed consent laws, 3) parental involvement laws, 4) clinic safety regulations, and 5) prohibition of abortion coverage in insurance policies. One wonders why Samuels deemed these particular pieces of pro-life legislation the “most harmful.” She never explains her methodology. At any rate, the editorial comes complete with a color coded map showing how many of the five “most harmful” abortion restrictions each state has enacted. Not surprisingly, states in the South and Midwest have been more active in passing pro-life laws than their counterparts in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
Of course, during the course of the op-ed, Samuels spins all of these laws in the most slanted way possible. Counseling sessions intended to let women know about sources of support for single mothers are “demeaning.” Parental involvement laws intended to protect minor girls from child predators pose “hardships” for teenagers. When she mentions the safety rules, Samuels is quick to mention the regulations about hall widths. She fails to discuss commonsense requirements that a doctor stay on the premises until a woman is discharged and the mandates for emergency equipment in cases of cardiac arrest.
Commentaries like this provide further evidence that elite opinion on sanctity of life issues does not reflect the attitudes of the rest of the country. Last month, Gallup released a survey which shows that informed consent laws, parental consent laws, partial birth abortion bans, and waiting periods are all supported by well over 60 percent of Americans. Furthermore, one would think the deplorable conditions found in Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion mill and numerous examples of clinic misconduct captured on the LiveActionFilms videos would lead some fair-minded observers to conclude that there might be some merit in stronger limits on abortion. Unfortunately, the New York Times has once again demonstrated that they are too ideologically rigid to engage these issues in a thoughtful way.
— Michael New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.