Accuracy in Media

In her reporting on the recent primary win by a pro-life Democrat, HuffPost political reporter Laura Bassett sounded upset that incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) defeated primary challenger Marie Newman, who supports abortion and is generally further left of Lipinski.

“Illinois just proved there’s still room for anti-abortion congressmen in the Democratic Party,” Bassett said, because Lipinski is reportedly just one of three House Democrats who is pro-life.

Bassett reports: “Progressive politicians and groups backing Newman ? including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Planned Parenthood Action Fund and EMILY’s List ? had hoped to capitalize on the current political momentum and replace so-called “Trump Democrats” like Lipinski, whose views on abortion and birth control they characterized as ‘extreme.’”

But Bassett doesn’t challenge the factuality of whether Americans actually believe being pro-life is “extreme.” In fact, according to Gallup polling, the country is fairly evenly split, with 46 percent describing themselves as “pro-life” and 49 percent as “pro-choice.”

Yet an even higher percentage of Americans — 68 percent — say they support all or some abortion restrictions; 18 percent say abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances” and 50 percent say abortion should be legal “only in certain circumstances.” Just 29 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal “under any circumstances,” and that figure hasn’t ever fluctuated above 34 percent since Gallup started asking this question in 1975. That means the vast majority of Americans have basically remained supportive of some abortion restrictions in the past four decades.

Bassett does report that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Lipinski because Pelosi said she doesn’t think Democrats should have a litmus test on abortion. But Bassett doesn’t mention that this would imply the official Democratic Party would view Newman’s backers as the true extremists. But by neglecting to paint an accurate picture of how Americans actually feel about abortion, Bassett creates the impression that being pro-life is somehow a fringe position.


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