Today, in an article
headlined Could this be the end of Roe v Wade
, the BBC's Clare Murphy discusses South Dakota's passage of a law apparently designed to eventually challenge the Supreme Court's infamous abortion ruling from 1973. The article is in many respects a rehash of another Murphy article which TAE noted and praised
back in November, but it is worth praising again. Murphy explicitly notes something that the pro-abortion lobby (and its proxies in the media) goes to great lengths to obfuscate, namely that an end to Roe v Wade does not
mean the end of access to abortion in the US. She even notes:
But the battle would take place in state legislatures, and that, to an increasing number of pro-choicers, may be no bad thing.
It would force them 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. Abortion rights would finally have a firm, democratic foundation.
The fact that current abortion policy has been imposed by courts rather than elected representatives, thus removing it from the arena of political compromise, is the single most important cause making abortion the highly contentious and polarizing issue that it currently is. An end to Roe will be the first step in establishing an abortion policy which will help prevent the festering of political grievances that judicial-fiat rulings tend to engender.
Murphy should be commended for presenting a reasonable and balanced profile of the abortion issue as it currently stands in the US, and for avoiding the more typical BBC meme of using the issue as a hook on which to hang yet another story about the rise of the dreaded religious right.
Less commendable was the BBC's response to TAE today on another abortion article
. Earlier this week the BBC ran an article on the Supreme Court's decision to hear an appeal of a lower court's ruling that the federal law banning partial-birth abortions is unconstitutional. The opening line of that article claimed that "The US Supreme Court says it will rule on whether to uphold the first federal ban on an abortion procedure since terminations were made legal in 1973." This implies that there was a federal ban on abortions prior to 1973, which is simply untrue. Prior to 1973, abortion policy was decided by state legislatures, and hence whether or not abortion was legal varied from state to state. In many states abortion was already legal even before Roe, a point which, if understood, tends to put the lie to the alarmist claims of the pro-abortion lobby regarding the possible end of Roe.
TAE pointed this out to the BBC via its on-line complaints procedure, and today the BBC responded with the following:
I understand you feel that the opening paragraph in a BBC News article about
abortion in the USA is factually incorrect.
I can assure you that factual accuracy is the essence of news reporting and the BBC aspires to the very highest standards of journalism but in many cases, particularly with breaking news stories, facts can be scarce or conflicting.
Nevertheless I do realise the frustration this supposed error must have caused. Therefore please be assured that your complaint has been registered and placed on an audience log which is made available to all members of the BBC and a copy of your e-mail forwarded for the attention of the BBC News team.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact the BBC with your complaint.
Have you got that? It is apparently the considered judgment of Ms O'Doherty that the status of abortion in the US prior to 1973, and the nature of the court ruling that has been the subject of intense analysis and debate for 23 years (update: ahh, I mean 33!) since then, is in fact a "breaking" story about which facts are "scarce" and/or "conflicting". Either that, or Louise is nothing more than a computer program pumping out automated responses to e-mails that no one ever reads or pays any attention to. Either way, it rather shows the BBC's claims
to "research" the issue, "listen to your concerns", and "learn from all complaints" to be the farce that they apparently are.