Accuracy in Media

With the upcoming 2020 elections, one of the hot-button issues is abortion. BuzzFeed News elected to interview the president of a pro-choice organization, Nancy Northup, but it did not offer any counter-arguments and nor did BuzzFeed News interview antiabortion activists for figures as a contrasting viewpoint or profile piece.

BuzzFeed News opened with, “It is no exaggeration to say that the Center for Reproductive Rights was made for this moment.”

The use of this type of spin strayed from objective and measurable facts, which journalists and news outlets should employ and use. The opening line insinuated that anti-abortion activists were wrong to oppose abortion, without offering proper space for rebuttal or a counter-argument.

The website offered little resistance to Northrup’s retelling of her past experience, such as her story of enduring “hundreds of anti-abortion protesters faced them down, chanting, saying prayers, and attempting to block patients from entering the clinic.” She told BuzzFeed News, “It’s really unfortunate that we’re here, 30 years later, and this remains such an entrenched fight,” but BuzzFeed News did not add that both sides of the issue are responsible for the continued battle over abortion rights and neither did it recognize the arguments from the antiabortion movement.

BuzzFeed News said that the Center for Reproductive Rights is a nonpartisan organization, but its employees exclusively donate to Democratic Party lawmakers. According to Open Secrets, Center for Reproductive Rights employees donated almost $5,000 to pro-choice lawmakers such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). There was no donation made to Republican Party lawmakers by the center’s employees. Though the center itself is nonpartisan, it is difficult for BuzzFeed News and the Center for Reproductive Rights to claim the center’s employees are nonpartisan when their political donations are taken into account.

After BuzzFeed News discussed the intricacies of the ongoing court case, it again revived the line, “The center was created to fight a case like this.” Although it may be true, based on the center’s mission, it is a second example of the website’s biased descriptions for the Center for Reproductive Justice.

During the current U.S. Supreme Court term, the court is hearing a challenge to a Louisiana abortion law which requires doctors who perform abortions to also have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court previously struck down a similar law in Texas based on the Texas law making it difficult for women to seek abortions in 2016. Northup’s organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights, represents the plaintiff in this case.

The current case, June Medical Services v. Russo, and its plaintiffs contend that the Louisiana law will eventually eliminate abortion access throughout the state of Louisiana. As background, in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in favor of overturning a similar Texas law which required abortion clinics to have surgical facilities and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court said that both provisions of the law were unconstitutional due to the creation of an “undue burden” on people seeking an abortion. That specific Supreme Court case is known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

BuzzFeed News interviewed Northup at length, but it did not post a similar interview of anti-abortion leaders, such as Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser or March for Life President Jeanne Mancini. There was a lack of fair representation of the antiabortion movement in its interview and BuzzFeed News should provide an opportunity for the anti-abortion movement to explain the reasons behind their advocacy efforts.

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