I guess I need to thank my friends on social media for making me aware of this article…I’ll save anyone some time when conversing with me about news events and their coverage; if your question starts with, “Did you see that article in the Register…” the answer is almost always, No. But I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, the article by William Petroski in the Des Moines Register on January 4th, titled Personhood bill on the agenda as abortion rights debate looms in Iowa Legislature. This piece is so poorly constructed for so many reasons. Rather than picking it apart line by line, I’m going to focus on the two most glaring problems I have with it.
Problem #1: The Bias
The biases start to appear in the second paragraph already. Pro-life people are called “Abortion opponents,” which we no doubt are, but just a couple of inches later, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, gets the label “a supporter of reproductive rights.” Isn’t that nice…would you rather be tagged with the negative sounding ‘opponents’ or the friendly sounding ‘supporter?’ Yeah, that’s what I thought. Wouldn’t proper use of the language and corresponding descriptors mean that if we are “abortion opponents”, wouldn’t Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell and her friends better be labeled as “abortion supporters?” Nobody is wanting to deny anyone of their reproductive rights here. We just think that someone’s right to live outweighs someone else’s right to participate in activity that can lead to reproduction without facing the possibility that it may in fact happen. And, please don’t give me any of that junk about being patriarchal and woman hating and yadda yadda yadda. I am the first to tell a male who has participated in said reproductive activity that he better man up and take care of his child
Problem #2: The False Information and Scare Tactics
Next, the representative from Ames gets away with spouting talking points, again unchecked. She states, “…It is such extreme legislation. It would reduce access to anything that is hormone-based birth control and…a lot of options for fertility treatments.” Boy, talk about your scare tactics…none of this is true. The legislation being proposed simply states that life begins at fertilization (acknowledging a scientific fact by the way) and that the per-born are therefore afforded the same rights as the rest of us. It doesn’t outlaw anything, unless of course it takes an innocent human life. So is Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell admitting that what she calls birth control ends an innocent life? If so, shouldn’t we look at our definitions and what we are allowing to be put into our daughters’ and wives’ and others bodies? If she is also suggesting that certain “options for infertility treatments” are only viable if they are allowed to destroy innocent human life, shouldn’t we look at the system more closely? Maybe see if there are better ways for mother and child. Ah ha, here’s a blatant one…”According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization…” Wait, WHAT?! How does it not seem relevant that Alan Guttmacher was the second president of Planned Parenthood after Margaret Sanger, the founder (the largest abortionist in the US by the way.) Oh, and that they are still Planned Parenthood’s research arm! How does any credible journalist think that it is acceptable to leave out such an important fact?
Wait, here’s some more scare tactics from another source…Erin Davidson-Rippey, director of public affairs at Planned Parent of the Heartland. A quick aside, I know the tone of this is one of anger and I am angry. But there is a lot of pity and sadness here to…case in point, Ms. Davidson-Rippey. I was really heartbroken to watch her so vehemently argue for zero restrictions to abortion while being 8 or 9 months pregnant last session. She is need of our prayers. Anyway, here she is again reading from the same script as Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell with her litany of scar tactics and inflammatory rhetoric; “unconstitutional” 3 times in one paragraph. She calls it a “very dangerous bill” that is opposed by people across the political spectrum. And the coup de gras, “I don’t think there are very many legislators who want to stand in the way of someone who wants to have kids through in-vitro fertilization or families that are controlling their own lives through birth control…” Good night! We are scary people aren’t we…
Propaganda is everywhere, and in many forms. We, as consumers of knowledge need to be aware of them and discern when they’re being used to lead our thinking rather than guide it. This article shamelessly uses both Card Stacking and Name Calling to try to lead us down their path of thinking. By touting all of the strengths of their position without any of the negatives – that it’s taking a life, for example, and even going so far as to change the way they phrase their side of the debate (pro this, pro that), it is obviously Card Stacking. Add to that the overwhelming negativity to the pro life movement (not a phrase they dared to use in the article, of course), without any benefit to the strengths of our stance, and you have blatant Name Calling. Again, these forms of propaganda are used everywhere – we just need to be able to identify and desegregate those claims from the truth.
To be fair, there are instances of non-bias and accurate information. The article quotes pro-life leaders (and I have to assume Sen. Chapman) accurately. There is mention of some of the less “controversial” legislation and one that doesn’t seem like it should be. However, those instances are a far minority to the overwhelming problems with this article.