A conversational, informative lede that draws readers immediately into the story.
An impartial, fact-based narrative that quotes intelligent sources on both sides.
A solid chunk of analysis from an independent expert with impressive credentials.
A Kansas City Star story on the question of "Will Roe v. Wade be overturned?" boasts that winning trifecta — and it makes for a quality, satisfying piece of daily journalism.
"This piece by Judy L. Thomas is the best report I've read on the subject," Star reporter Laura Bauer tweeted about her colleague's work. "Definitely take the time to read."
My response: Amen!
As we've noted repeatedly here at GetReligion, mainstream news coverage often favors abortion rights supporters. In case you missed our previous references, see the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series — written by the late David Shaw — that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents.
Given the typical imbalanced coverage, the Star's fair, evenhanded approach is particularly refreshing from a journalistic perspective.
The lede sets the scene with a history lesson:
Almost half a century has passed, so forgive Dave Heinemann if he doesn’t remember every single detail of how things went down that long spring day in Topeka.
But one thing the former Kansas lawmaker hasn’t forgotten is the intensity of the 1969 debate on a measure that made abortion more accessible in the state.
“The Legislature was rewriting the state’s criminal code, and there was one section on abortion,” said Heinemann, then a Garden City Republican serving his first term in the Legislature. “That was the only section that really became a lightning rod.”
At the time, Kansas — like most states — banned abortion except to save the life of the woman. But some states had begun to propose measures to loosen the restrictions.
From there, the paper notes the potential impact of Brett Kavanaugh's expected confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court and explains the role that individual states would play if Roe v. Wade were reversed.
As I mentioned, sources on both sides weigh in.
Finally, there's this thought-provoking analysis from an expert who has studied the issue:
One expert on abortion politics thinks that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he would more likely want to chip away at Roe rather than reverse it.
“I don’t think Roe is going to fall, but my sense is that states are going to get a lot more leeway to regulate abortion than they already have,” said Glen Halva-Neubauer, a political science professor at Furman University in South Carolina who has studied abortion policy for decades. “I think that virtually every restriction that comes to them is going to be affirmed.”
One thing many people don’t realize, he said, is how restricted the right to abortion already is.
“People say, ‘Oh, no, Roe might fall,’ ” he said. “I’m like, ‘Wake up and smell the coffee.’ The last seven to eight years have been critical in terms of putting up more and more restrictions.”
The erosion of Roe actually began in 1980, Halva-Neubauer said, when the Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. McRae that the Hyde Amendment of 1976, which banned the use of federal funding to pay for abortion through Medicaid, did not violate the U.S Constitution.
Undoubtedly, my quick analysis is missing much of the nuance and depth of the report. That, to some extent, speaks to what a nice job of reporting that Thomas does.
By all means, click the link and read the story.