We suggested that not much has changed since the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series -- written by the late David Shaw -- that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents.
We pointed out that among Shaw's findings a quarter-century ago were these:
* The news media consistently use language and images that frame the entire abortion debate in terms that implicitly favor abortion-rights advocates.
* Abortion-rights advocates are often quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably than are abortion opponents.
Why do I bring up that recent post again now?
Because I wanted to share a positive example of how journalists who want to provide impartial coverage can do so. This story, from the front page of Tuesday's Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City, concerns a prayer vigil conducted by Catholic opponents of a planned abortion clinic:
Here's the lede from Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman's longtime religion editor (she followed me in that role in 2002):
About 100 members of a metro-area church held a prayer vigil on Monday outside a building where an abortion clinic is set to open in their south Oklahoma City neighborhood.
The Rev. Bill Pruett, pastor of St. James the Greater Catholic Church, said the clinic that will open a few blocks from his house of worship, 4201 S McKinley, is in direct contradiction to his parish's Christian belief that abortion is wrong.
“We don't like our neighborhood being singled out for something like this,” Pruett said Monday. “We would love it to be closed before it ever opens.”
The priest and members of St. James, as well as a few people from the nearby neighborhood, gathered around 11:30 a.m. Monday outside a building at 1240 SW 44, which formerly housed an eye clinic at the southeast corner of Blackwelder Avenue and SW 44. The church group formed a single line along Blackwelder Avenue curving along SW 44 to meet the legal right-of-way requirements for a protest. Pruett walked along the group to lead them through several prayers and the rosary devotional.
But what about the organization planning the clinic? What do they say?
The Oklahoman gets right to that:
Deb Gruver, communications director for the Wichita, Kan.-based Trust Women Foundation, would not confirm the address for the planned clinic, citing concerns about the building being the potential target of vandalism.
However, she said the Trust Women South Winds Women's Center will open sometime this summer. Sister Maria Faulkner, a member of St. James, and a nun with the Gospel of Life religious community, said the group opening the clinic may view the facility as a health care center but she and many other Christians opposed to abortion don't share the same viewpoint.
“The building is zoned correctly for health care, the difference is we do not believe this is true care,” Faulkner said.
Gruver said the Trust Women Foundation, which already operates a similar clinic in Wichita, disagreed with the nun's assessment.
“Oklahoma is an underserved area for women, and we believe that women everywhere deserve access to their legal reproductive rights,” Gruver said Monday in a telephone interview.
“Obviously, we feel like our services are needed or we would not be opening there. That's our mission — to open clinics in underserved areas. If we didn't think there was a need for abortion care, we wouldn't open a clinic there.”
No, this isn't an in-depth exploration of the planned clinic or the Catholic church's teachings on abortion. No, it doesn't cover every possible angle or quote every potential source. But for a daily news report, it's solid.
The Oklahoman's story avoids the kind of loaded language and editorialization that characterize so much abortion coverage.
Kudos to Hinton and her newspaper for fair, factual reporting.