Patterico's Pontifications

11/5/2006

Why Linda Greenhouse Lies to New York Times Readers

Filed under: Abortion,General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 1:21 pm

The New York Times‘s Linda Greenhouse distorts the impact of a federal law banning partial-birth abortion in an article today misleadingly titled The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion:

The administration describes the [partial-birth abortion ban] as taking “only the limited step of proscribing a rarely used and inhumane abortion procedure resembling infanticide.”

“Infanticide” is a potent label, frequently used by abortion opponents. One brief describes the procedure as “killing a child in the birth process.” While this description is true in the sense that uninterrupted gestation leads to birth — “He not busy being born is busy dying,” in the words of the Bob Dylan song — it is well off the mark as a description of what actually occurs.

The standard procedure used by Dr. Warren M. Hern, the author of a widely consulted textbook on abortion and one of the leading providers of abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, is to “induce fetal demise” by injecting a drug one or two days before the abortion.

The suggestion that the law would ban such an abortion is utterly dishonest. Matthew J. Franck notes that the relevant statute does not ban abortions in which death takes place before delivery. He quotes the words of the statute and says:

If the “standard procedure” described by Greenhouse were in fact what happens in the abortions the debate is about, we wouldn’t be calling it “partial-birth” abortion, now would we? It is the perversion of birthing into killing, when a living unborn child is present and could actually be delivered, that prompted the act of Congress. “Fetal demise” induced by drugs a day or two beforehand, followed by removal of the fetal remains . . . simply is not an abortion that falls within the law’s terms. Whatever Dr. Hern’s “standard procedure” is, it isn’t banned by this legislation if it is as described here.

Mr. Franck then asks:

Contrary to Greenhouse’s false depiction, “killing a child in the birth process” is an unquestionably accurate description of the act banned by the statute. One could ask, why can’t she get this right? But I suspect the real question is, why won’t she?

Mr. Franck’s question appears to be rhetorical, but let’s answer it anyway, just for fun. Greenhouse is not a dumb woman, and I have absolutely no doubt that she knows that what she is writing is not true. So what’s going on here? The answer is obvious when you recall Greenhouse’s speech to a Radcliffe audience from June 2006:

I cried that night in the Simon and Garfunkel concert out of the realization that my faith had been misplaced. We were not doing a better job. We had not learned from the old mistakes. Our generation had not proved to be the solution. We were the problem.

And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last years have been dispiriting is an understatement.

It is quite clear that Linda Greenhouse considers the federal ban on partial-birth abortion as part of the religious fundamentalists’ “sustained assault on reproductive freedom.” Apparently, she believes that the acceptable responses to that “assault” include dishonesty in the pages of the New York Times.

Greenhouse’s conscience is clear, even if she is lying and she knows it — because she believes that it’s all for a good cause. If she can help persuade Anthony Kennedy to vote the way she likes, then maybe she’ll smile at the next Simon and Garfunkel concert.

Honesty is secondary to that. Isn’t it?

24 Responses to “Why Linda Greenhouse Lies to New York Times Readers”

  1. This is what Hell was created for Patterico.

    I hope.

    At times like these, I hope my religious friends are right.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  2. Isn’t this the same Linda Greenhouse that, even though she effectively admitted her bias, was still supported by many (including conservatives) because she was such a good and fair journalist? Perhaps the Radcliffe event was Greenhouse’s way of giving notice that her fair and balanced days are over.

    DRJ (1be297)

  3. To Greenhouse and the rest of the pro-abortion advocates who declare “partial birth abortion” cannot be outlawed …. this logic is the consequence.

    Doctors are urging health regulators to consider allowing the “active euthanasia” of severely disabled newborn babies. […]

    Deliberate action to end infants’ lives may also reduce the number of late abortions, since it would allow women the chance to decide whether their disabled child should live. […]

    John Harris, a member of the official Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University, welcomed the college’s submission. “We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term, but cannot kill a newborn,” he told The Sunday Times. “What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not the other?”

    What, indeed.

    Darleen (03346c)

  4. Many of the same people who support “partial birth” abortion today, are the same ones who called troops returning from Vietnam “baby killers.”

    mokus (539ee5)

  5. Very good point, mokus.

    Leftists are evil. That’s mine. Of course they oppose soldiers fighting to keep a people free and support mothers and doctors, of all people, killing babies.

    Nothing could be more logical—if they’re evil. If not, it’s inexplicable.

    I say it’s explicable. That explains people like Paul.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  6. Great post, and though it’s difficult and risky to presume to know another person’s motives, I think you are correct.

    senorlechero (360f45)

  7. Some people ask a legitimate question: if we hadn’t gone into Iraq, what are all the other great things we could have done with those hundreds of billions of dollars? Whether you support or oppose what the U.S. has done in Iraq, it’s still a legitimate question well worth thinking about.

    Likewise, another legitimate question is: if liberals hadn’t insisted on twisting the Constitution in order to legalize the ripping apart of unbron babies, and instead had deferred to democratic processes, what are all of the other great things that our country could have done with the energy used to fight both sides of that fight?

    It boggles the mind.

    Andrew (ae6ded)

  8. Adding to Andrew’s second paragraph, what might have become of those ripped-apart babies had they been allowed to live. Might one of them have discovered the cure for cancer?

    Old Coot (caf903)

  9. Adding to Darleen’s comments, Senators Santorum and Boxer had a royal round on this some time ago, where Santorum wanted Boxer to define at what point the infant was “born”. If it was OK to kill the infant with the head still in the birth canal, what about if the head was out but the torso was still in the canal, etc., pointing out the difficulty of justifying one version of killing in midst of delivery while still banning others. Boxer was left resorting to saying she wasn’t going to talk specifics of when a baby is born. If one hates Santorum it would be easy to sympathize with Boxer, otherwise, I would hope that our US Senators could be a little more forthright on such perplexing questions as to when a baby is born.

    Adding to Old Coot’s comments, there would be much less concern about the solvency of social security, as well.

    Let me add a point that at least some readers may not have learned. Any time a law regarding abortion includes the exception, “unless the ‘HEALTH’ of the mother is at stake”, the law has essentially legalized what it was intended to restrict. “Health” in this context can mean anything, including the mother would be “bummed out” if not allowed to have an abortion. When there is a fight over wanting the language to be “unless the LIFE of the mother is at stake”, it is because that is more objective and enforcible. While not perfect, any experienced OB will admit that there are very few, if any, situations where the mother will die unless an abortion is performed. [Yes, an embryo is sacrifed when an ectopic pregnancy is removed, but that was not a physiologically sustainable pregnancy anyway. Complications near term such as eclampsia (or “toxemia”) are probably handled with emergency C-section as well as any kind of late term abortion.] So, next time you hear a news report saying one group wants to include an exception for “the health of the mother”, and it seems a reasonable thing, you will know more of what is actually going on- whether you support it or not, at least there is an intellectually honest understanding.

    Please, somebody, tell me how we can encourage more responsible reporting (other than spilling the truth here)?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  10. Hang on folks. It’s only gonna take a few more generations:

    Conservatives Out-breeding Liberals

    Rovin (e4c3cf)

  11. Christoph: I disagree that leftists are evil.

    I think the problem is that leftists and rightists are operating from very different presumptions about the way the world works, and that the same act means different things to leftists than it does to rightists. And I think that describing each other as evil, a vice in which both leftists and rights engage, makes it harder to look for, let alone find, the common ground which is necessary if we’re ever going to move past the contentious politics of today into a broad consensus for building a better politics tomorrow.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  12. Andrew…..there is a far better question than the one you ask…………If “progressive” judges had not create a “right to abortion” what would the 45 million aborted americans be doing right now?

    senorlechero (360f45)

  13. Aphrael:

    Leftists embrace evil philosophies. The dividing line between good and evil itself cuts across all human hearts.

    As George W. Bush pointed out.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  14. Aphrael, I think the problem is that leftists and rightists are operating from very different presumptions about the way the world works, and that the same act means different things to leftists than it does to rightists.

    I would agree, except that I would take it a step further: is it possible that one of the two presumptions is correct and the other is wrong?

    Additionally, I would suggest that we have been arguing the wrong issue all along. This is not a “choice” issue, it is a “when does the fetus become human?” issue. If we were to argue that point, then we might possibly answer the larger question of when abortions might be justified. I would submit that “almost never” would be the answer, certainly the later into the pregnancy that one asks the question. In my opinion, if we ask the “when …” question, then the only true “choice” is when the two rights to life are in conflict.

    MD in Philly, you’ve got it right. The exception for the “health” of the mother is large enough to drive a fleet of 18 wheelers through, rendering any real protection of the unborn baby meaningless. This is of course why it’s the fall back position for the pro-abortion side.

    Another gripe I have with the “choice” argument is the insistence that somehow I’m trying to intrude into their bedrooms or their bodies, or that as a small government conservative I’m somehow suggesting a role for government that is inconsistent with my beliefs. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a valid function of government to protect the weak from abuse by the strong. What could be more appropriate than to protect the unborn, none of whom can speak for themselves?

    Harry Arthur (4c2232)

  15. Thanks, Harry.

    The first question that must be asked is are we serious about protecting human life. The entire argument comes down to this.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  16. I agree with Aphrael on this one. The lefty sites I visit are full of the “Republicans are evil liars” bit, and it’s one of the big turn-offs I find there. I’m disappointed that someone with whom I would otherwise agree would resort to the same rhetoric.

    Is there good and evil in the world? Sure. Sometimes one side is right and the other is wrong. But I rarely feel compelled to argue that lefties are evil, just misguided.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  17. It is refreshing when I read those favorable to abortion acknowledging Greenhouse’s lies. It gives me hope that there is some common ground, and it allows me to respect people I may often disagree with.

    You have some high quality commentators, Patterico.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  18. @christoph:
    thank you for exhibiting your hate. “leftists are evil.” i don’t think of myself as leftist, but many of my friends proudly cop to this. i don’t think you’re evil, just hopelessly deluded.
    @aphrael:
    i’m not interested in forming a “broad consensus for building a better politics” with people like christoph. i’m interested in taking the culture war to a final, decisive victory over his side.
    @old coot:
    the old “missed cure for cancer” saw gave me the usual giggle. i’ll see you and raise you. your screen name suggests a mature gentleman who, if he is normal, must have masturbated several times in his life. what if one of those 800 million spermatozoa on your palm was the second coming of jesus, and you flushed him down the john?
    @amphipolis:
    your methodology (identifying a first question) is correct, but you muffed the execution.
    the first question is, does the female have the same autonomy over her body as we males do? if you answer yes as i do, then you can try to reduce abortion through education, advocacy and freely available birth control, but you cannot apply coercion. if you answer yes, it spares you from the discomfort of trying to impose your unqualified moral judgment on a pregnant woman, and your unqualified medical judgment on her doctor. if you answer yes, you don’t have to split the hairs of various proposals on the slippery slope ranging from “partial-birth abortion” to the one on the ballot in south dakota, under which rape victims would have to carry to term.
    when you relinquish your historic male power over the female, it actually makes **both** of you freer.

    assistant devil's advocate (2eed70)

  19. advocate:

    does the female have the same autonomy over her body as we males do?
    This would only be a valid question if men could get pregnant. It is an irrelevant red herring, moving the focus from life to a sexual equivalence that does not exist.

    Your question seems to devolve into can women be just like men? The answer is no.

    And, of course, you have already answered the real first question in the negative.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  20. Keep in mind, gentle readers, that this discussion is in the context of partial birth abortion. Is it coercion to not allow the killing of a half-delivered baby? And this because otherwise a woman would not have the control over her body that a man would hypothetically have?

    It must first be determined whether we are serious about preserving life. If we are, we will reach different conclusions.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  21. And what is up with that Dylan reference? It’s a very odd shoe-horn she used there.

    How about this one instead: in a partial birth abortion, a fetus, in the words of the Rolling Stones song, “can’t get no satisfaction”.

    I could go on, I really could.

    lukewarmpants (52259d)

  22. A woman has autonomy, but the developing embryo, fetus, pre-born child has a distinct DNA and is not synonomous with the woman’s body.

    Rather than protecting the woman’s autonomy by giving her the “right” to abortion, I would suggest we protect the autonomy of women by holding life sacred and making any father responsible for his child, if even only financially. The reality is that women can get pregnant, men don’t. If you give a woman “autonomy” over “her body” “like a man has” by allowing abortion, you have also allowed women to have the psychological task of adjusting to what such “autonomy” requires. You can’t make it equal to a male, no matter what. You only get to choose how it is different.
    Women’s equality is not always a great thing, like with cigarette smoking and risk of lung cancer. (“You’ve come a long way, baby…”)

    In general, I agree that differences in opinion do not necessarily mean the difference between good and evil. Typically it is the right that gets accused of being evil (“Democratic family values mean caring if a child goes to bed hungry [unlike those evil Republicans that like children to starve…]). I would say, however, Christoph could legitimately say, “Leftists support the idea of allowing an infant to be passed through the birth canal except the head, and while the head is still in the canal a sharp device is plunged into the back of the infant’s neck/skull and a catheter is inserted and sucks the brains out.” Other than the defense that says, “But not all Leftists agree with that!”, it is hard to know how that doesn’t seem “evil”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  23. the first question is, does the female have the same autonomy over her body as we males do?

    Of course she does. But she also, under current law, has autonomy over the body of her baby, as well.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  24. @amphipolis:
    “this would only be a valid question if men could get pregnant. it is an irrelevant red herring…”
    ah so. because women can get pregnant and men can’t, we must extend society’s force of law over their bodies. here’s a hypothetical counterexample, i call it the showstopper, and justify it on the basis that only men can impregnate women and sire babies. it’s a little device that implants in your scrotum at the base of your penis, with a reversible, slow-release drug that takes you out of the mating game, until you can get a court order to have it shut off. are you gonna split hairs with me over when i can get a law passed and enforced to have it installed in you, or are you going to categorically reject this concept?
    “it must first be determined whether we are serious about preserving life…”
    the life interest and the liberty interest are not always congruent. patrick henry had something to say about that; see also any new hampshire car license plate.
    @md in philly:
    i don’t think you know what “autonomy” means. your suggestion that autonomy be secured by “holding life sacred and making any father responsible” is classic doublespeak. in south dakota, they’re proposing to make women even more autonomous by forcing them to have babies when they get raped, how about that? your “women’s equality is not always a great thing, like with cigarette smoking and risk of lung cancer” is just plain ugly, although not as ugly as “leftists are evil”. on a more positive note, you and i and our fellow males have cornered 100% of the market for prostate cancer remedies. women don’t have what it takes to play in this game.
    @sharon:
    your observation is mostly correct. under current law, the state rules in the third trimester of pregnancy. the rights of the pregnant woman and the “rights” of the fetus are zero-sum; what you add to one you subtract from the other. can you tell me where i can get the wisdom, let alone the authority, to determine this balance on behalf of a pregnant total stranger and her fetus?

    assistant devil's advocate (e3ff2a)


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