Recently the Times has run several stories on various abortion legislation in the states, none more slanted than Eric Eckholm’s piece on Monday, “New Laws in 6 States Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks.”
In February, Eckholm called the abortion providers Planned Parenthood “advocates for women’s health,” and his new story had a similar case of bias by omission involving abortion providers. Yet Eckholm easily managed to identify “anti-abortion campaigners.”
Dozens of new restrictions passed by states this year have chipped away at the right to abortion by requiring women to view ultrasounds, imposing waiting periods or cutting funds for clinics. But a new kind of law has gone beyond such restrictions, striking at the foundation of the abortion rules set out by the Supreme Court over the last four decades.
These laws, passed in six states in little more than a year, ban abortions at the 20th week after conception, based on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point — a notion disputed by mainstream medical organizations in the United States and Britain. Opponents of abortion say they expect that discussion of fetal pain — even in the face of scientific criticism — will alter public perception of abortion, and they have made support for the new laws a litmus test for Republicans seeking the presidency.
The text box emphasized: “Citing fetal pain, a powerful notion despite a lack of scientific support.”
Only 1.5 percent of the 1.21 million abortions each year, or about 18,000, occur later than 20 weeks after conception, and many of these involve medical emergencies, said Ms. Nash of the Guttmacher Institute.
Still, the new laws also place stricter, and what some say are unconstitutional, limits on medical exceptions as well.
The Guttmacher Institute is an abortion-rights organization, yet Eckholm only referred to it as a “research group.”
Then there’s this observation from what sounds like an objective medical source:
Based on current knowledge, medical organizations generally reject the notion that a fetus can feel pain before 24 weeks. “The suggestion that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain is inconsistent with the biological evidence,” said Dr. David A. Grimes, a prominent researcher and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “To suggest that pain can be perceived without a cerebral cortex is also inconsistent with the definition of pain.”
But that’s not all Grimes is; he’s also a practicing abortionist who won an award from the National Abortion Federation in 1987 and served on the group’s board of directors, according to his online curriculum vitae. Why didn’t Eckholm mention that his source is an avid activist and practitioner of the act he is commenting on?
ACTION: Contact reporter Eric Eckholm here.