So here is our Associated Press Stylebook question of the day: Is it possible to be pro-adoption?
Obviously, this is related to that raging debate that has haunted copy-desk work for several decades, which is what to call the armies on both sides of the culture wars about abortion.
The old style rules -- as the Los Angeles Times brilliantly demonstrated -- tilted the table way to the cultural left, allowing a kind of advocacy journalism that simply was not balanced or fair. One side received the label of its choice -- "pro-choice" -- while the other side was denied the label of its choice -- "pro-life" -- and stuck with the downer, negative "anti-abortion."
Today, most newsrooms have adopted a less-than-perfect, but basically accurate, set of labels -- "pro-abortion-rights" vs. "anti-abortion." This still leaves the conservative camp with the "anti" curse, but it does away with the very slanted "pro-choice" label. It you see a media organization using "choice" language opposite "anti-abortion," that tells you all you need to know about its interest in balance.
Now, back to the original question. You may remember the media storm about the CatholicVote.org video that focused on the crisis pregnancy -- that's one way to interpret the events -- that ended with the birth of the baby who would become President Barack Obama.
Now, those folks are back, with another ad that, as things currently stand, will air in a very prominent time slot. Here's part of the Washington Post "On Faith" report:
The organization that was turned down when it tried to get NBC-TV to air an anti-abortion video that portrayed President Obama as an unborn child has had better luck the second time around with the TV show American Idol.
Fox TV has agreed to air an ad by CatholicVote.org during the finale of the hit show. It's part of a campaign by CatholicVote.org -- a subsidiary of the Fidelis Center, a Chicago-based conservative Catholic organization -- to attract Americans who are lukewarm in their support for abortion.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press found that support for abortion among those who say it should be legal in "most cases" fell to 28 percent from 37 percent last August. (Those who believed it should be legal in "all cases" stayed steady at 16 percent.)
"Our goal is to reach the average American -- your neighbor next door," says a fundraising letter Catholicvote.org sent out to supporters. "Radical pro-abortion advocates are not our target audience. And neither is the 'choir' who already agree with us."
The CatholicVote.org letter clearly mentions abortion. However, the ad does not -- choosing to focus on adoption.
My question again: Is it possible to be "pro-adoption," or are we still at the stage where everything has to be linked to abortion as the root cause of all debates? If so, does that mean that efforts by people on the left, including Catholics who back Obama, should be labeled "pro-abortion rights" even when they are pushing for adoption, support for pregnant women, child-care funding, etc.?
In other words, are we going to stick to the labels for both sides? Or will one side still be stuck with "anti-abortion," while the other side gets to creep toward some liberalized "pro-life" label, as seems to be the goal?
In other words, what is the content of this ad? Does it need a journalistic label? Which one?
This is a journalism style issue. Try to stay on that topic, please.