CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Media and Abortion

Aug 26, 2007

There are certain topics you just can’t trust the mainstream media with. Abortion is surely one of them. Whenever the MSM deals with the subject, more often than not it is a terribly biased and one-sided affair.

We know why this is, of course. Numerous studies have shown that those in the media tend to be mainly of the left, are for the most part secular, and have drunk deeply from the feminist worldview. So it is not surprising that a pro-death slant will be found in much of the MSM coverage of the issue.

A good example of this was found in the Herald Sun, Saturday, August 25. There in the opinion section was a large two-page spread on the issue, featuring three articles by three different authors. Entitled, “Abortion: Dividing Lines,” it was meant to allow the abortion debate to be played out to its readers.

But consider how the debate was staged. First of all, two of the three writers were pro-death, so from the very beginning, it was a lop-sided affair. Two to one is not exactly a fair and even-handed debate.

But also consider how the various writers were described. We had the infamous Peter Singer, described as “the Ethicist”. We had pro-abortionist Susie Allanson, described as “the Psychologist,” while Denis Hart was labelled “the Archbishop”.

Now what’s wrong with that? While Archbishop Hart did a fine job of defending the pro-life position, it might have been better to allow a pro-lifer not so intimately tied up with the Catholic Church to make the case. In a secular age, simply to have an ethicist and a psychologist pitted against a Catholic will prejudice the debate for many.

That is, many readers will think, here we have two capable professionals, without any religious baggage, taking on someone who is obviously biased: a Catholic. Now I think a religious person can make as good a case as any on an issue like abortion, and I also think people like Singer have their own religious baggage, even if it is secular humanism. But for the average reader, the impression will none the less be given that we have two objective experts versus one bigoted religious fanatic. So the very choice of debaters sets out a very unbalanced debate.

But consider also the arguments. Peter Singer is a well-known atheist, utilitarian and animal rights campaigner. He is also well known as being pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, and even pro-infanticide.

In his article he is happy to make one concession: “In a strictly biological sense, the opponents of abortion are right to say that abortion ends a human life.” But then he goes on to argue that even though it is a human life, it is not a person, so it still can be bumped off.

I have dealt with this sort of philosophical sleight-of-hand elsewhere. Singer arbitrarily assigns personhood only to those who meet certain criteria. Thus even a new-born baby is not necessarily a person, in Singer’s view, unless it passes certain tests, enabling it to be qualified to live.

He of course dropped this test when his own mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Then he waived his secular utilitarian philosophy, and did everything he could to comfort his mother and keep her alive, when he should have freed up her hospital bed for someone more “deserving:” a “real person”.

It is no surprise that when Singer seeks to speak in places like Germany, he is roundly booed, since they know all about eugenics, and the redefinition of personhood. Singer’s worldview has eerie parallels with, and reminders of, the Nazi experiment.

The other pro-death author, Susie Allanson, started off rather poorly. Indeed, it is a sign of not having much of a case to make, when a person instead resorts to name-calling and abuse. And that is what Susie does. She takes Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt to task for an earlier piece he had written on abortion. She said, “I don’t know about you, but I choked on my breakfast as I did a double take on Bolt’s obscene, ignorant and sexist comments”.

Nothing like abusing a person instead of addressing the arguments. The pro-death camp is rather good at this however. They have turned it into something of an art form. They cannot deny the clear medical and scientific evidence about unborn babies, so they have to resort to shouting at their opponents, hoping that will somehow pass for rational argument.

But Susie really shoots herself in the foot big time very early in her article. This is what she says: “I wondered whether our governments would ever fulfil their human rights obligations to women according to UN declarations Australia has signed. These include the right to life, liberty and security (1948), privacy (1966), freedom from discrimination and gender discrimination (1948/1979), health, and reproductive health and family planning (1979).”

Did you get that? The right to life? That is the very thing she wants to deny not only females, but males, when they are in the womb. There is no right to life for the unborn, according to Ms Allanson, yet she says we should be championing such a right!

It obviously did not occur to this pro-abortionist that she had made an amazing blunder here. But clear thinking is not always the hallmark of this crowd. So obsessed are they with pushing their agenda, that they won’t let a bit of intellectual inconsistency get in their way.

It’s amazing how ideology will blind a person to reality and common sense. Ms Allanson is so committed to her “right to choose,” that she has become blinded not only to the major fallacies in her own argument, but the complete barrenness of her worldview.

By having a pathological fixation on such nebulous concepts as ‘choice,’ she ignores the fact that the unborn certainly have no choice in this debate as to whether they live or die. But ideologues and secular humanists were never known for their concerns for real, individual humans, only for abstract classifications of people.

Denis Hart was left to add a little bit of sense and realism to the debate. He rightly noted that we need to help both mother and child: “Many women suffer the terrible post-abortion problems of a troubled soul. Many of their relationships flounder. Our heart goes out to them. Through our social agency networks, we wish to offer alternatives for women who find they have an unplanned pregnancy or who are challenged by the continuing responsibility of parenthood.”

He continues, “Rarely have we found that women really wanted to abort the child within. Society must give them real choices other than abortion. We wish, as a church, to assist here. There is a link between helping women and the child within and the health of our society. Protect suffering pregnant women and you protect society. Offer cheap abortion options and you cheapen the society we share.”

At least he got a hearing. But he was still outnumbered two to one. But I guess we should be grateful for small mercies in the MSM. At least he got to make his case. But the media can and should certainly lift its game here. But just don’t hold your breath.

www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22304219-5000117,00.html

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12 Responses to The Media and Abortion

  • The basic problem I have with the Susie Allansons of this world is their utter hypocrisy: they live (literally!) off what they profess to reject, viz. the sanctity of life. That is, they themselves have been born; presumably they are happy to be alive; but the sanctity of life so dear to themselves they deny to multitudes of others, i.e. the unborn!

    They should thank the good Lord that their own parents did not hold the same views and practise the same policies as they do! The only way such people could be advocating abortion is because they have first been born themselves. Think about that, Susie (and anyone else of the same persuasion)!

    “All those who advocate abortion have themselves been born.” [Ronald Reagan]

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Speaking of Andrew Bolt as Allanson did, he has a couple of responses on his blog. One to Singer and one to Allanson.

    Whilst I agree with Denis Hart, he made a couple of strange statements. The first was to indicate that pro-life people don’t want to “impose” our view upon society. This is a disingenuous and needless concession since the pro-death lobby most certainly are seeking to impose their view. Secondly, he suggests that “society must give [women] real choices other than abortion”. This suggests that at present there exist inadequate “choices other than abortion”. Why do so many in the pro-life camp feel that they need to “offer alternatives” to abortion rather than simply condemn the practice as immoral? I think it’s because they are afraid of being seen as judgmental and not terribly PC.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • >>”Numerous studies have shown that those in the media tend to be mainly of the left”.

    I think you need to back this one up with a citation or two. Personally I would say that most media in Australia tends to lean to the right.

    James Beattie

  • Thanks James

    Actually in earlier posts along this line I have offered such documentation. But what would you call “right”? If you consider the Age, the SHM, the CT, and so on to be leaning to the right, then that must place you well to the extreme left.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Susie, as a mature woman you can put the needs of the vulnerable before your own and bring out your creative, protective instinct towards this sudden suprise in the womb. We as a community can help you take up your better side and proceed forward in a healthy relationship with the unborn. That’s why we all applaud mothers so much, because they are the selfless people in our lives.

    And there are a lot of selfless people who are willing to come alongside the distraught bearer of the child, who will try to help her to a rapid road to maturity in not just looking out for herself, her convenience, or her own agenda.

    Too often people realise too late all the damage they did by their decisions. Many women who have already had an abortion are now in that position. Most suffer. Others cover up the suffering and hurt with fierce defending of their actions. So they lead more people down their painful path.

    Susie, I thought for sure you’d want a woman’s response. I strongly sense that Peter Singer has lost touch with his feminine side. Why are we listening to him anyway?

    Rebecca Field

  • It appears that the world is going on an unstoppable downward slide. Morals, more and more are going out the window. I heard a uni lecturer mention briefly that the most dangerous place to be alive is in the womb (other than perhaps when you’re very, very, very old). I have also heard a Christian friend of mine say that he felt physically sick when lectured on abortion at uni.

    It is time that Christians wake up, turn back to God and depend on him. We need revival. I believe that our nation is in moral decline that only God can stop. We need to pray.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • Regarding the MSM leaning to the left/right, I’d suggest that perhaps James has economic issues more in mind, while Bill has social issues more in mind? If so, I think they’re both correct. There’s no question in my mind that the MSM lean to the left when it comes to abortion, gay marriage, Christianity as a whole etc, as Bill has said many times.

    But when it comes to the economy, as well as national security, I think you see more right-leaning commentary. For example, by and large, the message I get from the MSM is pro-deregulation and pro-globalisation.

    Tim Baker

  • Thanks Tim

    That may be perhaps broadly correct, although only just. A quick perusal of such papers as the SMH, the CT, the Age, will review plenty of anti-globalisation pieces, plenty of appeasement pieces regarding Islam, plenty of anti-Bush and anti-Iraq pieces, plenty of anti-government IR laws pieces, and so on. So I am not as convinced that the MSM is more to the right on these issues.

    Just look at the editorial pages of, say, the Age for a week. A very clear leftward slant on most issues can be found there, not just the moral issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I don’t disagree at all, but The Age, CT and the SMH (though to a lesser extent, in my view) are the more left-leaning members of the MSM. The Australian and the tabloids are obviously far more on the right when it comes to economic issues & national security.

    If we could calculate some kind of index for right/left slant of the papers, and then take into account circulation numbers (The Age and CT are fairly low circulation, I think?), I reckon we’d find that in aggregate they’re right-leaning on these issues.

    In any case, I’m of the view that on economic/national security issues, the right is winning (eg globalisation continues, national security policy is still fairly hardline), so commentators in The Age & CT are losing the battle. In contrast, when it comes to the social issues, we’ve got the whole of the MSM leaning to the left, and things are going pretty good for them (ie abortion laws, attacks on Christianity). So, on balance, I’m definitely with you that the slant of the MSM is a big problem for those with views like ours.

    Tim Baker

  • Thanks Tim

    Yes, as I have written elsewhere, there are some real differences between the Fairfax Press (the Age, etc.) and the Murdoch press (Australian, etc.) The former is quite leftwing, while the latter is more conservative on some issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • A good piece of writing Bill; and I liked Ewan McDonald’s remarks too, although espousing moral purity and consistency on the issue of abortion, I believe, is less effective in saving unborn life than taking a more practical approach and using modern techniques to change hearts and minds. The pro-abortion ascendancy was gained using sophisticated means over a long period of time. Pro-lifers need to get down off their high horse and get hands-on.
    Robert Garvey

  • Getting back to the issue of leftist media bias, the most recent proof of this was found in the Australian, August 30, 2007, in an article by David Salter, a former executive producer of the ABC’s Media Watch. He admitted: “The long march of young liberal-humanist progressives through the ABC’s many portals is as much a self-perpetuating cycle as the daughters of doctors choosing a medical career or the sons of great football players striving to match the sporting deeds of their fathers.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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