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Voices Online Edition
Summer 1997 : Volume XII, No. 2
Accounts Hide Grim News
by Sherry Tyree
The last couple of years have been tough for abortion supporters. First Norma McCorvey the "Jane Roe" in Roe v. Wade defected from the pro-abortion camp.
Then feminist Naomi Wolf warned abortion-rights supporters, in a New Republic article, that they were in danger of becoming "callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life."
Soon afterwards the Atlantic Monthly published an appeal to liberals by Professor George McKenna to recognize abortion as perhaps necessary, but definitely evil.
Meanwhile congressmen displayed accurate, gruesome drawings during last November's debate over banning partial-birth abortion and newspapers repeatedly echoed the details of this grisly, still-legal procedure.
As if that weren't enough, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers (a trade association and lobbying group for more than 200 abortion clinics) told The New York Times that he "had lied through my teeth" about partial-birth abortion.
Now we have 22-year-old Nichole Williams, dead immediately following an abortion Friday, April 25, at the nationally known St. Louis abortion clinic, Reproductive Health Services.
This latter was national news but you'd have needed your spectacles the next morning to find it in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where it was covered under "Miscellaneous" in one lonely paragraph at the bottom of the Police/Courts section on page 14.
Four days later, however, on Tuesday, April 29, Nichole Williams's death finally made the Post's front page. But here the Post made yet another mistake. The abortion, "a five minute procedure", was described as involving "suctioning out the contents of the uterus."
Contents of the uterus? If a student had used this phrase, we'd all rightly accuse him of vague writing and general laziness. The "contents" of Nicole Williams's uterus were the legs, arms, toes, head and heart of another human being, now dead. Until recently the Post usually described these "contents" by the medical term "fetus".
But perhaps the editors know that the word "fetus" has become humanized. Young Kellyanne Fitzpatrick in an interview for a September 1996 Atlantic Monthly article "In the Land of Conservative Women", by Elinor Burkett (an older, liberal reporter) commenting on the prevalence of young, politically active pro-life women, said, "You can't appeal to us through our wombs. We're pro-life. The fetus beat us. We grew up with sonograms. We know life when we see it."
Maybe some day in the distant future Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Whenever that happens, we can expect that in most big-city newspapers, the news may well be reported on the last page, with a two-word headline which will simply state: "Something Happened".
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