|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1990|
|When the mainstream media reports a story concerning abortion or prolife, are they biased in what they report and how they report it?|
With Dr. John Ankerberg, Judie Brown, Carol Everett, Debbie Henry, Dr. McArthur Hill, Dr. Carolyn Gerster, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Anthony Levatino, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, Mrs. Adele Nathanson, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Dr. Joseph Randall, Joe Scheidler, Susan Smith, Kathy Sparks, Bishop Austin Vaughan, Nita Whitten, and Dr. John C. Willke
Editor’s note: Reader caution is advised. The transcript contains graphic medical descriptions.
Is there Media Bias against the Pro-Life Position?
- Ankerberg: Do you remember how the media reported the 1989 gubernatorial elections in Virginia, and the mayoral race in New York City? These races were said to be clear pro-choice, pro-abortion victories, and a defeat of pro-life candidates. Very few Americans have heard the information that you are going to hear on this program about what really went on behind the scenes: which candidates were really supported by pro-life groups, and what really happened in the races.
- Now, to tell you a little of the story, I’d like you to listen to Susan Smith, the Associate Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, DC; Judie Brown, the President of the American Life League; and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a practicing obstetrician in New York City, and the creator of the pro-life movie, The Silent Scream.
- Susan Smith: Well, the media and the abortion lobby played up the governor’s race in New Jersey, and they played up the mayoral race in New York City as pro-life/pro-abortion contests. And in fact, they weren’t. In each case the Republican candidate took every conceivable position on abortion. In New Jersey Congressman Jim Courter was running for Governor against Congressman Jim Florio. And Florio is very strongly pro-abortion, and said that over and over and over again. In the Republican candidate’s case, he was all over the place, and nobody knew where he was. We didn’t support him. We weren’t in that race. But the point is that he didn’t get the pro-life vote because he wasn’t strongly pro-life; and he didn’t get the pro-abortion vote, because they were going for their guy, Jim Florio. So he lost any strength that he could have had by taking a strong, convicted, pro-life position.
- And that’s the message to candidates: that you can’t waffle on this issue. You can’t be all over the map. You have to stand, stand firmly, and address this issue head on, and show the pro-abortion candidate for what he is: an extremist who wants abortion legal for any reason, at any stage during pregnancy; wants the government to pay for it; and doesn’t want parents involved. That’s what this issue should really be framed around.
- Judie Brown: The media has focused tremendous attention on the mayor’s race in New York City, and on the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia on November 7, 1989. In all three races, the first and foremost thing for us to remember as prolife people is that the incumbent, the person who did not run, was in favor of killing babies; the person who was elected was in favor of killing babies. So, in fact, that state retained the status quo in each one of those instances.
- But the reason why none of those elections came out favorably for innocent, preborn children has nothing whatsoever to do with the power of the pro-life movement. Whether we’re talking about Mr. Giuliani in New York City, Mr. Coulter in New Jersey, or Mr. Coleman in Virginia, we are, in each case, talking about a Republican who became wimpy when it came to abortion, who decided that the pro-abortion forces had more to offer him than the pro-lifers, and who decided that he, all of a sudden, would no longer be a pro-life candidate, but would be a candidate who had “no position” on the killing of innocent babies.
- As soon as that happens in a political race, pro-lifers become so disgusted with the lack of backbone in a given candidate, that they will forget about working for that candidate and will vote their conscience on anything but the killing of babies. Because they realize, whether it’s in Virginia, New Jersey, or New York, that regardless of who wins that election, just as many babies are going to die.
- Nathanson: Everyone can be active in lobbying legislators. I mean the issue now is in legislation, in the Legislatures, and in the State Houses. We are no longer, really, in the Supreme Court. And now it is a question of bringing it back to the people. And here is where the average person can be very effective, by writing legislators, talking to them in the Capitol, and lobbying them. These are the grassroots activism which make the democratic engine go. And if legislators do not hear from people, then they will go their own way. They will put their finger up to the wind and decide that this the way we will go. But if people educate themselves about the facts of pre-natal life, pre-natality, I call it, which is one stage away from childhood—and by the way, pre-natality is really part of our life span—if people educate themselves, and then educate the legislators, I think we can change… We can reverse this.
- Smith: Now, where it was an issue was in the Virginia gubernatorial election. You had a radical, pro-abortion candidate in Doug Wilder, and a strongly pro-life candidate in Marshall Coleman. Doug Wilder came out very strongly pro-abortion. He was elected. And the abortion lobby has been crowing about this as a sign of their strength, that they elected their guy. However, what they don’t mention is the fact that National Right to Life was working strongly to elect pro-life Marshall Coleman. And we had television ads that we wanted to run, showing that Marshall Coleman was pro-life, and Doug Wilder was pro-abortion. And we were basically shut out of the TV market all over Virginia. Stations refused to run our ads.
- Plain and simple, it’s censorship. Because we were not able to run our television ads, there were people out there who weren’t informed on this issue, and who didn’t know that Doug Wilder was an abortion extremist, and didn’t know that Marshall Coleman was a pro-life candidate. And so we lost a number of votes. Now this was a razor thin election. Doug Wilder won by only 5, 000 or 6,000 votes. Votes that could have been turned if we had been allowed to run our TV spots.
- Now, I’m sure folks are sitting out there wondering why we couldn’t run our TV spots. And it’s basically because there’s an inbuilt media bias. We weren’t allowed to run our ads, but the National Abortion Rights Action League was able to run their ads for Doug Wilder. So it’s just a very good example of what we’re working against. And it should make people mad.
- Ankerberg: Now, what is taking place in this country as a result of all the media hype? How does this affect our elected officials in Washington? How will this affect your local state legislators? I’d like you to listen to Susan Smith:
- Smith: Now, since the Webster decision, we’ve seen a lot of hype through the media that there’s a so-called “pro-choice” majority in this country that is rising up and is not going to let politicians restrict their right to choose to kill their baby. And politicians are hearing this, and they’re thinking, “Boy, maybe the pro-choice people are stronger than the pro-life people,” even though, for 16 years it was the pro-life movement that wrote the letters, that worked the polls, that got out and voted. But now the media is hyping all these things: the marches, some elections. And they’re playing this to the politicians. And politicians are listening, and they’re thinking that it just might be that the pro-choice movement is stronger.
- And it’s absolutely critical that everybody, every pro-life citizen who’s ever written a letter, and who’s ever been active, should do so. And all those people who have never done anything before, should sit down and, in their own words, write their Congressmen, their two Senators, their Governor, the President, their State Legislator, and everybody else that they can think of that’s an elected official. And write them a letter and just say it like they feel it: “I think abortion is wrong, and I want you to do something about it.” Doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be a long letter, it doesn’t have to be typed.
- But they should write, and they should write to the people that make decisions on these issues. And that means everybody from the state level to the federal level. And I will tell you that these politicians listen, and they read their mail, and they look at the stacks, and they say, “Do I have more prochoice, or do I have more pro-life?” That’s the bottom line.
- And I talk to politicians, congressmen and senators every day, and over and over and over again, I hear the same thing: “My constituents, people back in my state, are telling me this. I’m going to go that way.” It depends on who’s giving him the most grief, basically.
- Or, they can, these folks can pick up the phone and call their Congressman and their Senator, and just say, “I think abortion is terrible, and I want my Congressman, my Senator, to vote pro-life.” It’s as simple as that, and it gets through. But it’s very, very important right now. This is a critical time in history. And if the perception among the politicians is that it’s safer to be with the people that want abortion, that’s the way they’re going to go. And, you know, every mom that’s at home with their kids, or that works and has a few minutes in the evening. Every dad, every student, can do it.
- Ankerberg: Next, I’d like you to think about the doctors in your community. If the scientific evidence is so clear, that life begins at conception, why is it that the majority of doctors do not take a strong stand against abortion? I asked this question of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, and this is what he said.
- Nathanson: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is sort of the union of this particular specialty that I’m in, has been strongly pro-abortion, historically, at least since 1970 or so. The American Medical Association has been strongly pro-abortion. When you speak to individual doctors, for example, colleagues of mine, most of them now are rather indifferent, or perhaps a better word would be diffident on the subject. I don’t see any compelling opinion on the part of most individual practitioners. They’re probably content with the status quo. But if they could be persuaded, by scientific data, that there was an advantage, medically and otherwise, to the pro-life posture, I think they would, individually, be open to such persuasion.
- Ankerberg: Now realize, Dr. Bernard Nathanson was formerly one of the founders of NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, in New York City. He used to be called the “abortion king,” because he performed thousands and thousands of abortions. But one day he changed his mind. And I asked him what evidence persuaded him to change his mind. This is what he told me.
- Nathanson: Well, what changed my mind on the question of abortion was new technology which we began to use in the early ‘70s, technology such as ultrasound imaging and electronic fetal heart monitoring. These technologies, and other similar apparatuses, for the first time, began to give us an intimate look into the life of the unborn, and more important, allowed us to begin to measure—not simply observe, but measure—the reactions, the physiology, the functioning of the unborn child. When you come to a level of study that allows for precise measurement, you are then in an area of scientific certainty, and this is exactly what changed my mind: the approaching certainty that the unborn child is a human being, and as such, was a patient of mine. And I am not in the business of decimating my patient population.
- Ankerberg: You know, of all the different interviews that I conducted, I suppose the information that shook me the most came from Judie Brown, the President of American Life League. She was talking about how the Supreme Court justices deliberately crafted judicial arguments that would make it possible to legalize the killing of innocent babies. Please listen.
- Brown: Well, we’ve done a study of how Row vs. Wade came to pass, because after Justice William O. Douglass passed away, all of his records were made available to the public. And we had a team of researchers go down and literally sort through 4,000 boxes of Justice Douglass’s papers. And what we learned from studying all of those papers, which related to the Row vs. Wade decision was really, really horrifying. First of all, we realized that Justice Brennan, who is the so-called token Catholic on the Supreme Court, literally advised Justice Blackmun every step of the way on how to craft judicial arguments that would make it possible to legalize the killing of innocent babies.
- There is also a memo that Justice Blackmun sent to Justice Douglass in which he pointed out that his aim, through Row vs. Wade, was going to be to legalize abortion, no matter what steps he had to take. He wanted to minimize the damage to the judicial process, however, in such a way that he would come up with the most logical argument that the Justices could possibly use. But they had to legalize abortion. And so they knew, when they took the case, Row vs. Wade, and Doe vs. Bolton, that they were, in fact, going to legalize abortion. The only question that was in their minds was how to do it. This is why the Justices chose, in 1972, when they heard the arguments, to eliminate all medical discussion from the hearing. There were no pieces of evidence allowed in that courtroom with regard to the humanity of the child in the womb.
- And that, in fact, is why the Justices were able to say, “Physicians and theologians do not agree on when life begins, so we will simply not discuss that issue. This is strictly an issue of a woman and her right to make a decision with her doctor.”
- So the humanity of the child was discounted immediately, because Justice Blackmun and Justice Brennan both realized that, if they were to take a good look at the evidence, medical evidence, with regard to the existence of the child, they would not be able to legalize abortion. And they had already made up their minds they would legalize abortion.
- Ankerberg: Now, there’s another interview that I’d like you to hear. It was with the wife of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Adele told me that when she was first married to Bernard, and he was the “abortion king” of New York City, that, as his wife, she was against abortion, but she did not know how to persuade him to change his mind. Early in their marriage, she became pregnant, and he asked her if she wanted to get an abortion. I’d like you to hear her tell this story, and how she answered her husband. Here’s Adele Nathanson.
- Adele Nathanson: I never agreed with my husband on the abortion question. But I had nothing to convince him with, because he was scientist and an atheist. I had my heart and my conscience, and that didn’t go over. Just to illustrate how it was in those years, 23 years ago, we were married very quickly. I got pregnant very quickly. And it was a double whammy, and hard for the husband to take. And he said, the mentality of the time, “Darling, would you like to have an abortion?” And they were illegal. It took me a millisecond to say, “Not possible.” And I really thank God today, because our only son, Joseph, is now 23, and graduated from college last year.
- Ankerberg: And finally, I’d like you to listen to Mr. Joe Scheidler, the Executive Director of the Pro-Life Action League; then my good friend, Dr. D. James Kennedy, the Senior Minister of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
- Joe Scheidler: A nation cannot survive destroying its posterity. Our greatest natural resource is human being. Every country knows that. And we’ve already murdered 30 million of our posterity, of our future. Every time you see two young people under the age of 17 walking along, there should be three there. We have ended one out of every three pregnancies in this country. We won’t survive. God is not mocked; and humanity is not mocked; and nature isn’t mocked. We have to fight this. If we’re patriotic Americans, if we’re good Christians, we will fight abortions. If the enemy wanted to destroy this country, they would kill off our youth. And I don’t believe that we can survive at the rate of exterminating our youth that’s going on now. So I’m in this cause because I believe in God, I believe in Christ, and I believe in the United States.
- Dr. D. James Kennedy: And I think that we now have the opportunity, and we will be held responsible by our God, for doing something to protect the innocent. God is concerned about the widow, and about the orphan, and about the innocent, and the helpless. I hope that you will act, and you will determine, by God’s grace, “I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something, and by that grace, I’m going to do it.” Thank you.