Accuracy in Media

Media pushback has begun in earnest on the failed Virginia late-term abortion bill.

The Washington Post explored the political ramifications in “In Virginia, abortion furor hits new heights as both sides double down,” by Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider.

Vox sought to diffuse the issue by dissecting it in “The controversy around Virginia’s new abortion bill, explained” – subhead: “Confusing comments by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam have fed a firestorm around the new bill” – by Anna North.

The Post piece said Virginia Republicans’ attacks on Gov. Ralph Northam and other Democrats “as radicals who favor infanticide” marked “a sharp shift in political strategy after years of trying to minimize socially divisive issues to win back suburban voters.”

It wasn’t just a lawmaker coldly stating babies could be aborted after the mother had begun to dilate or Northam saying the baby could be resuscitated so doctors and mothers could have a conversation on whether to keep them alive.

It was “missteps and unclear statements” by Democrats. It was Northam adding “to the furor in a radio interview with comments that Republicans took as an endorsement of killing live babies after delivery.”

Tran did say at a legislative committee hearing her “measure would allow a woman to terminate a pregnancy until the moment she gives birth.”

But she said Thursday she “‘misspoke’ and acknowledged she was poorly prepared to present the bill – and misrepresented what it did.” The Post provides no evidence of this and no information on what aspects of the bill Tran misrepresented.

Then came the spin. “Tran’s bill would not have fundamentally changed abortion law in Virginia, where late-term abortions are legal under extreme circumstances,” Vozzella and Schneider wrote. “But it would have made the procedure easier to obtain.”

Vox struck a similar theme. Nothing to see here folks. Just the normal yin and yang of abortion politics.

“Northam’s words helped stir up a nationwide debate around one of several recent efforts to expand abortion access at the state level,” North wrote for Vox. “Laws restricting abortion access are nothing new, having proliferated nationwide since 2010.

“But now, buoyed by Democratic victories in the 2018 midterms and anxious to shore up access in anticipation of a challenge to Roe v. Wade, abortion rights supporters in state legislatures are backing bills that would roll back some of the earlier restrictions or introduce new protections for abortion rights. And while the particulars of the controversy in Virginia are unique, versions of it are likely to take place across the country as abortion-rights supporters back legislation in purple and even red states.”

As for the governor, “It’s still not entirely clear what Northam was trying to say about HB 2491,” North wrote. “The interview was confusing in other ways beyond his comments about infants being born. Northam also said he supported having ‘at least two providers’ involved in the decision of whether to perform a third-trimester abortion, although the current law requires three and HB 2491 would require one.”

North then provided another excuse. “Some have raised the possibility that Northam was not fully familiar with the bill at issue. Whatever the case, his comments added fuel to the fire already blazing around the bill.”

But he seemed to know where he stood at a news conference on Thursday when he gave what the Post called “a full-throated endorsement of abortion rights and attacked Republicans.”

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