Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Could be worse

Given the Supreme Court vacancies that have arisen this year, it was inevitable that the BBC would do a profile on abortion in America. Clare Murphy provided that profile today, and to be honest, it could have been a lot worse.

Yes, Murphy focused largely on a single state, Mississippi, where abortions are more heavily regulated than most others, and she did so in vaguely disapproving tones. And yes, she made spurious comparisons between the sparsely populated Mississippi and the most populous state in the Union, California, in order to make Mississippi abortion policy appear particularly draconian. And yes, the article contained an information sidebar which characterized limitations on state funding of abortion as legal "restrictions" on abortion. (On that logic, the absence of public funds to pay for my greens fees is a legal "restriction" on playing golf.) So, no, the BBC has not been able to entirely rid itself of its left-leaning tics.

However, there are some positives that should be pointed out. Murphy does introduce the notion that abortion policy in the US is primarily a state, not a national, issue. And in so doing, she touches on the fact that, even should Roe v Wade be overturned, many states would still retain an abortion on demand policy little different to what exists today. This is significant, because many reports erroneously convey, and many people erroneously think, that the overturning of Roe would necessarily result in the end to abortion in the US. This notion is simply wrong, and Murphy does well to avoid protraying the issue in that way.

Beyond this, she's even introduced the idea that "an end to Roe v Wade might not be a bad thing after all."
It would force the pro-choice lobby to argue their case with voters at the state level, so the thinking goes, and stop them relying on unelected courts to impose their views.
I can't remember ever seeing this point being made in a mainstream media piece before. Certainly, at least, not on the BBC. She's even used an "avowed pro-choice columnist" as her source for this notion, quoting him as saying that reliance on Roe "has been deeply unhealthy for abortion rights, for liberalism more generally, and ultimately for American democracy."

Perhaps I am exercising the soft bigotry of low expectations, but I think this represents a big step forward for the BBC, and hopefully it portends a more reasonable and less breathless coverage of not only the abortion issue in the US, but more specifically the Supreme Court nomination process.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont get comfy scott, the US executes its 1000th victim/murderer this Friday, and I can hear the nodding BBC types tut tuting from here.

I can tell you now that the fact that since 1976, 1000 executed against 3400 death row convictions and 100,000 murdered will not be mentioned.

What will be mentioned, proberbly by a Clive Stafford-Smith, is how american justice is unfair and understress..as well as racist ect, ect...as well as steep dwingling public support (down to 68% from 80%)...In fact it might be an intersting idea to see if you can write it before its written by the blessed beeb.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOu know it seems like the BBc re-hashes the stories that have been shown on fronline documentaries.!!!

8:41 PM  

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