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Abortion decision marks moral degradation in mainstream media

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Fake news began with breaking news in 1988
By Paul Schratz

Photo caption: An ultrasound image depicts a baby in utero sucking its thumb. Paul Schratz writes, "There's no greater reality than the humanity of a baby, and if you can deny that, the opportunities for denial are limitless." (wikipedia.org)

I remember the day fake news was born.

It was Jan. 28, 1988, and like many things it came to Canada several years after first arriving in the U.S.
 
It showed up in the form of breaking news: the Supreme Court of Canada had overturned Canada’s abortion law.
 
Around the newsroom where I was working, the Morgentaler decision was greeted by exuberant cheers. Staff erupted in whoops and hollers. I don’t recall whether they actually threw papers in the air like some nightmarish V-E Day celebration, but it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if they had.
 
My colleagues’ elation at the news left me as saddened as did the court ruling, which launched three decades of unrestricted abortion in Canada, a hellish state of affairs that continues to this day.
 
Next January will be the 30th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision. Depending which side of the abortion debate you’re on, Jan. 28, 1988 is either a date that marks the supreme emancipation of Canadian women, or a day that continues to live in infamy.
 
Back then, as today, there was no doubt which side the press fell on. The noble “Fourth Estate,” historically the protector and guard against clergy, nobility and bourgeoisie, colluded with the powerful and hailed the decision.
 
It was an abrupt shift for the press, which until then had been forced to mask its support for abortion with reporting that ensured the prochoice side had coverage that was first among equals.
 
From Jan. 28 on, Canadian journalists no longer had to suppress their bias. They formed a united front to deliver a common story line: TheSupreme Court had granted Canadian women a constitutional right to unrestricted abortion, anytime, anywhere, any reason.
 
It’s a narrative that continues to this day, even though the justices came nowhere close to establishing a constitutional right to abortion. Their decision was actually much more complex than is regarded today, but in sum, they found the existing abortion law wanting.
 
Section 251(4) of the Criminal Code prohibited abortions from being performed on women who have not obtained a certificate from a therapeutic abortion committee stating that continuation of the pregnancy would endanger her life or health.
 
Since access to the committees wasn’t uniformly available across the country, some women were more vulnerable to criminal prosecution than others. This is what the court found defective.
 
Few people at the time thought the legal void left by the ruling would become the zeitgeist of our age, and it wouldn’t have if the media hadn’t perpetuated that mythology.
 
In fact the court itself said the government had a legitimate interest in protecting the unborn, and while it had struck down the existing law as unconstitutional it invited Parliament to craft a new one that didn’t suffer the same defects.
 
The government tried, introducing a compromise law that was rejected as too permissive by pro-lifers and too restrictive by abortion supporters. In a tie vote, the Senate defeated the legislation and a legislative vacuum has prevailed to this day. (It wouldn’t be the last time division in the pro-life movement proved detrimental to the cause).
 
Over the years the mainstream media have moved from cheerleading on the sidelines to actively taking the field, so entwined have they become in championing unrestricted abortion.
 
Back in the day, journalists liked to view themselves as afflicters of the comfortable and comforters of the afflicted. In actuality, Jan. 28, 1988, was the day journalism jumped the rails, siding with the powerful – abusive partners, domineering friends and family, a compliant medical regime, and an imperious establishment. These all conspired to cajole the culture into accepting abortion as the default option for unintended pregnancy.
 
The moral blinders journalists willingly put on helped set a pattern for their coverage of news in general, gradually moving from life issues to ethical questions and eventually even politics.
 
Like Pontius Pilate becoming friends with King Herod, that was the day journalists sided with the privileged who were gleefully setting a moral stage to dehumanize children in the womb.
 
Newspapers that once championed the marginalized suddenly became willing accomplices, actively working to reshape the culture.
 
From that day on, journalism has been in steady decline. It’s a small step from describing an unborn baby as a product of conception to portraying a baby still in the mother’s birth canal as an un-person.
 
Thus was born fake news. Today, journalists, who pride themselves on their faith in evidence-based science, easily ignore the evidence of DNA and ultrasound. Confronted with a baby’s beating heart, detectable brainwaves and fingerprints, thumb-sucking, and even a photo of an unborn baby’s tiny hand grasping a doctor’s finger during surgery, they look the other way.
 
The next time you’re frustrated by news coverage that seems to present an alternate reality from the one you know, remember where fake news began. There’s no greater reality than the humanity of a baby, and if you can deny that, the opportunities for denial are limitless.
 
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulschratz. 
Last Updated on Monday, 01 May 2017 13:47  

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