Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat Totally Misrepresents Public Opinion on Abortion Rights to Fight Planned Parenthood

Can’t the Times Get an Honest Conservative Commentator?

As this Forum has often noted, the New York Times has consistently tried and failed to get an intelligent, articulate and honest Conservative to write intelligent, articulate and honest commentary.  Ross Douthat’s recent remarks on abortion rights illustrates how fraudulent the Conservative position on public support for abortion rights really is.

Mr. Douthat is really, really mad about all of the press given to the recent controversy where the Susan G. Komen Foundation withdrew funding for cancer screening for Planned Parenthood and then restored it when public outrage was so great.  According to Mr. Douthat this was the result of a biased press.

But on the abortion issue, the press’s prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose.

See the reason that sanity and common sense won out in this situation has to be, in the minds of Conservatives, a biased press.  They are just never, ever able to admit that maybe, just maybe the public is not on their side and that news reporting, particularly in this situation was accurate.  What evidence does Mr. Douthat cite for the fact that it is press bias rather than support of abortion rights that is the driving force here.  Why he finds 58% of Americans are anti-abortion rights.

In the most recent Gallup poll on abortion, as many Americans described themselves as pro-life as called themselves pro-choice. A combined 58 percent of Americans stated that abortion should either be “illegal in all circumstances” or “legal in only a few circumstances.” These results do not vary appreciably by gender: in the first Gallup poll to show a slight pro-life majority, conducted in May 2009, half of American women described themselves as pro-life.

Wow, those are pretty damning statistics, or would be if they truly said things the way Mr. Douthat reported things.  First of all, if “pro-life” means opposed to abortion rights under all circumstances, then no, Americans are not split on the issue.  As shown in the Gallup Poll cited by Mr. Douthat, only 20% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.  (That the poll found that 47% of respondents described themselves as “pro-life” means 27% did not understand the concept to mean opposed to abortion rights.)

In fact, 26% of Americans believes there should be not restrictions on abortion rights, and 77% believe abortion rights should be allowed unconditionally or with some limiting conditions. 
Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?

under any
Legal only
under certain
Illegal in all

2011 Jul 15-17
2011 Jun 9-12
2011 May 5-8
2010 May 3-6

America is a pro abortion rights country.  The anti-abortion rights group is louder and gets far more press coverage than its numbers would justify, in fact that is the real press bias in this country. But when abortion rights are threatened the pro abortion rights group can be pretty loud, as in what just happened with the Komen Group.  Polititicans who mistake the quietness of the pro-rights groups had better be warned.

But somehow Mr. Douthat spins the data into saying that Americans side with the anti-abortion rights group.  He has to, in order to blame the problem with Planned Parenthood and the Komen Group on the press.  And that is why he cannot present the data in an honest manner, because data in the situation, like it is in many situations, is in opposition to Conservative positions.

People like Mr. Douthat are beyond embarrassment.  The editorial staff of the New York Times, for allowing this charlatan to publish on its page may well be moving in that direction. 

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