It's obvious how CBS News feels about the possibility of Arkansas going down to only one abortion clinic.
Care to hazard a guess which side CBS favors?
I caught CBS’ coverage of this story via the Pew Research Center’s daily religion headlines email. I clicked the link wondering if perhaps — just perhaps — I might find a fair, balanced news report.
Instead, I got the typical treatment of this subject that we have highlighted time and time again here at GetReligion. For anyone who might happen to be new to this journalism-focused website, here is the short version: Ample evidence supports the notion of rampant news media bias against abortion opponents, as noted in a classic Los Angeles Times series by the late David Shaw way back in 1990.
So, today’s critique marks the latest edition of “Here we go again …”
Here are the choppy, opening paragraphs from CBS:
Depending on the outcome of a court decision this week, Arkansas could become the seventh state in the country to have only one abortion clinic. Women in the state could also lose access to any abortions after 10 weeks into their pregnancy.
On Monday, Judge Kristine Baker, appointed by President Obama in 2012, heard challenges to three of Arkansas' recently-passed anti-abortion bills. If the laws are allowed to be implemented, it would force the closure of the state's last surgical abortion clinic, Little Rock Family Planning Services. Planned Parenthood Little Rock would be the state's last remaining abortion clinic, but would only be authorized to provide medical abortions, a method used up until 10 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.
If Judge Baker doesn't block the legislation from going into effect, the new laws will begin on Wednesday.
To be clear, it’s not that the CBS report doesn’t contain a lot of relevant facts and background. It does.
It’s just that the entire story is told from the perspective of abortion-rights supporters.
The main source reflected in the story is a pro-abortion research group whose name most news consumers will recognize:
Arkansas' anti-abortion laws in question are among the more than 300 pieces of legislation introduced this year that regulate and restrict access to abortion, the most in any single legislative session since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research organization. In six states, lawmakers have successfully passed "heartbeat" bans, laws that prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens five or six weeks into a woman's pregnancy. Critics of the new laws say that's before most women know they're pregnant.
What do supporters of the new laws say? Just kidding. Don’t look for anything along those lines in this report.
It’s almost amusing how tone-deaf CBS is to the fact that there might be sources on the anti-abortion side of the issue.
Consider these two paragraphs:
As of Monday, Arkansas only had two functioning abortion clinics, both in Little Rock: Planned Parenthood and Family Planning Services. If SB448 is allowed to be implemented, Family Planning Services, the only clinic the provides surgical abortions in the state, would be forced to close because the clinic's one provider "isn't OB/GYN board-eligible or certified," said Elizabeth Nash, a senior states issue manager at Guttmacher. While Planned Parenthood has physicians who would meet the requirements of the new law, the clinic only provides medical abortions and can't accommodate additional patients, according to Nash.
Emails to Planned Parenthood and Family Planning Services were not immediately returned.
OK. But what about the emails to the pro-life sources in Arkansas (such as the state’s attorney general)?
Again, I’m just kidding. Don’t look for anything along those lines in this report, which makes it obvious how CBS News feels about the possibility of Arkansas going down to only one abortion clinic.