Television Networks Refuse to Describe Partial-Birth Abortion Procedure

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Television Networks Refuse to Describe Partial-Birth Abortion Procedure

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
October 28, 2003

Washington, DC ( — Last Tuesday’s vote on the partial-birth abortion ban was yet another instance where life issues were brought to the forefront of the media’s attention. Yet the major networks failed to detail or explain the grisly procedure, the very reason the procedure has been the only one to be banned by the federal government.

The censored reports are far from an isolated incident.

According to the Media Research Center, in a study of 217 news stories from ABC, NBC, and CBS, analysts found the networks only described the procedure in 18 stories, and 15 of those reports were before 1998.

Of the three instances where the procedure was described in the past five years, only CBS explained the procedure in dispute, while ABC and NBC avoided the details.

“Some journalists may want viewers to see bloodied bodies from Iraq and caskets arriving home at Dover Air Force Base, but they don’t have the same table-thumping passion for the people’s right to know about partial-birth abortion,” stated MRC analysts Tim Graham and Rich Noyes.

NBC’s story on last Tuesday’s vote on partial-birth abortion tiptoed around the grisly reality of the procedure.

Reporter Chip Reid warned: "The debate, emotional, and at times, graphic." Senator Rick Santorum began: "They place a vacuum hose…" Then Reid jumped in: "Supporters of the ban argued that the procedure, usually done late in pregnancy, has no place in a civilized society." Senator John Ensign then said: "This procedure is so grotesque that when it is described it makes people shudder."

But NBC avoided describing it.

“A living baby is pulled feet first out of the womb, the base of the skull is punctured with a surgical instrument, and the brain is removed with a powerful suction machine, so the skull is collapsed and the corpse can be removed for disposal," the analysts wrote.

MRC believes the networks’ silence is not due to squeamishness or unwillingness to present horrific details, but a deep-seated pro-abortion bias.

“A 1995 survey of elite journalists found 97 percent describe themselves as ‘pro-choice,’ and 84 percent said they held this view strongly,” reported MRC.

ABC aired the most descriptions with ten, compared to CBS with six and NBC with just two. ABC did four in 1995 and four in 1997.

The partial-birth abortion procedure has never been described by a journalist on the ABC, CBS, or NBC morning shows, although CBS let Rep. Charles Canady describe it in 1995. Of the other 17 descriptions, ten were on evening newscasts, and seven aired on magazine, late-night, and Sunday news programs.