Washington Post Misleads Readers on Abortion Availability

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 31, 2010   |   1:15PM   |   Des Moines, IA

Has The Washington Post ever traveled to Iowa? Obviously, yes for presidential caucuses. But on Friday, Post reporter Sandhya Somashekhar accepted the bizarre premise of abortion advocates that abortions are “virtually impossible” in rural Iowa.

No one owns a car?

The story centered on a new pro-life cause, protesting the provision of RU-486 abortion cocktails over the Internet. Liberals can get upset about selling booze on the Internet, or the spreading of Obama slurs on the Internet, but the marketing of death pills online is a precious human right. The Post published this silly sentence:

Supporters say the program provides a vital service to women in the state’s rural reaches, where abortions can be virtually impossible to obtain.

Just before that, they explained that thanks to Planned Parenthood, “women in the first nine weeks of pregnancy can obtain abortion pills at most of the organization’s 19 centers, which are scattered across the state.” How do those two sentences go together? Abortions impossible, at 19 locations? Planned Parenthood actually lists 26 clinics:

Ames, Ankeny, Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids,  Council Bluffs, Creston, Des Moines (4), Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Fort Madison, Iowa City, Keokuk, Knoxville,  Mount Pleasant, Newton, Red Oak, Sioux City, Spencer, Storm Lake, Urbandale, and Washington.

Does The Washington Post want its readership to imagine that traveling five or perhaps 75 miles makes an abortion “virtually impossible”? Or does Planned Parenthood simply find this arrangement boosts their “termination” profits for customers who want to keep their abortions on the down low?  It wouldn’t complain if Iowa had a shortage of gun stores. But some sales are optional are regrettable, while others are apparently (to turn reality upside down) life-savers.

The Post had the usual heavy-handed labeling. The subhead was “Conservative state legislators vow to fight telemedicine practice.” The first sentence was “Conservative lawmakers in some states are taking aim at a practice they say could greatly expand the number of women who choose to terminate their pregnancies: abortion pills prescribed over the Internet.”  But Kyle Carlson of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland drew no liberal label as he declared online abortion pills as the wave of the future.

Are there health risks to taking the RU-486 regimen? The Somashekhar story touted that the combination is “92 percent to 95 percent effecittive, according to the company,” as if that would fly for liberals for most pharmaceutical products. The online version has these two paragraphs that did NOT appear in my edition of Friday’s newspaper:

Antiabortion groups say 11 women have died from complications related to the drug, but the Food and Drug Administration has not definitively linked RU-486 to any deaths.

Proponents say the death rate for women giving birth is higher than that for the abortion pill. They say many women prefer it because of the ease of taking a pill, and because the final steps often occur privately, within the woman’s home.

The Post doesn’t want to revisit tragic stories like the death of 18-year-old Holly Patterson in a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2003.

LifeNews.com Note: Tim Graham is the director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, a media watchdog group. He was a White House correspondent for World magazine in 2001 and 2002. The following originally appeared on the NewsBusters web site.