Surprise! Pro-life women planning to join March for Life get front-page news coverage

Hey, this is a surprise.

Pro-life women planning to join this week's March for Life in Washington, D.C., got front-page news coverage in the Detroit Free Press:

Why's it a surprise?

If you're a regular GetReligion reader, you don't need to ask: We've pointed out a time or two — or a thousand — that news stories heavily favoring the pro-choice side are a longstanding and indisputable problem. If you somehow missed it previously, check out the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series — written by the late David Shaw — that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents. 

So yes, it's unusual to see a Page 1 story in a major metropolitan daily that focuses on the perspective of the pro-life side. But that's exactly what the Free Press provides — quoting five pro-life advocates, including four women. (Amazingly, this is my second post in the last week-plus praising a mainstream news story on the abortion issue.)

Back to the Detroit story: Let's start with the lede:

While millions of women marched last weekend for equal rights around the world, many others sat on the sidelines.
They felt excluded from the Women's March on Washington because of one tenet: Its pro-abortion rights platform.
But this week, it's their turn.

The wording of the next paragraph gives me a little pause. But maybe it's just me:

Advocates who oppose a right to abortion say they're seeing a renewed interest in this year's March for Life, set for Friday on the National Mall. They predict it will see a surge of participants not only because it's happening on the heels of the Women's March, but also because of the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Advocates who oppose a right to abortion ...

This is another discussion we have frequently here at GetReligion: But must the pro-life side always be the opponents? Would it not be just as accurate — and perhaps more fair — to go ahead and describe that side as "pro-life" in that paragraph?

Yes, I know that such phrasing would violate the Associated Press Stylebook — the journalist's bible — which has this entry:

abortion Use anti-abortion instead of pro-life and pro-abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice. Avoid abortionist, which connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions.

But perhaps it's time for the AP to consider changing that style. 

That quibble aside, however, I was pleased with the overall Free Press story. The newspaper does an excellent job of allowing pro-life women to speak for themselves and explain their position in their own words, including here:

"With the number of justices that potentially will be appointed in President Trump’s term, there’s a vision for the future that we can overturn Roe v. Wade, and there’s a new vision of possibility for this to come true very soon," said Rebecca Cooper, 19, of Gaylord, who is involved in the Students for Life organization on her campus.
Cooper, a student at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, said she's marching because she believes in life from the moment of conception that "is made in the image of God. I believe that's what gives us worth, and that is why I choose to spend my time and my efforts defending that life.
"I’m going to march to demonstrate that I believe it is wrong to intentionally kill an unborn baby. That baby is human. That’s half of why I’m going. The other half is to say that I also stand with single moms and women having unexpected babies. We want to help you choose life for your baby, but also want to walk alongside you and stand beside you and that baby, and give you the life you both deserve."

Yes, the Detroit newspaper also gives a pro-choice advocate an opportunity to respond to the concerns about pro-life women being excluded from last weekend's march. That's only right and proper in a fair, impartial news story.

For more insight on that topic, be sure to check out Julia Duin's recent post on "No pro-lifers? Journalists find that Women's March on Washington doesn't want them" as well as Terry Mattingly's follow-up post that addressed related angles.

What other news coverage are you seeing — good and bad — about the March for Life? By all means, please share links in the comments section or tweet us at @GetReligion.

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