Pro-lifers were understandably upset recently when the Food and Drug Administration gave a pharmaceutical company the go-ahead to market its morning after pill to 17-year-olds over the counter.
The drug was already available to women that age with a doctors' note. Now children who are not old enough to vote or smoke can get “emergency contraception” without seeing a doctor. Even worse was the way CNN couldn't grasp the pro-life viewpoint.
Two men on CNN, Jack Cafferty and Rick Sanchez, both covered the controversy to reflect favorably on the FDA decision, marginalizing conservative women in the process.
Cafferty absurdly set up the debate over the morning after pill by saying that “women's groups say the decision is long overdue,” but “critics, many of them conservatives, say that parents should be furious.”
Pitting “women's groups” vs. conservative “critics” is an insult. As if the two are mutually exclusive. Presumably, Cafferty was referring to women's groups like Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women which are liberal feminist groups that support abortion on demand.
What about conservative women and their organizations? Are women who believe life begins at conception or who have moral objections to the morning after pill not real women to Cafferty?
Cafferty wasn't the only man distorting the Plan B debate on CNN. Sanchez openly praised the decision saying that 17-year-olds getting the drug without a prescription was “the upshot here.”
Sanchez interviewed the presidents of both Planned Parenthood and Concerned Women for
Getting at the heart of the controversy Sanchez asked, “there's even the argument made by some that this is akin to abortion, but apparently its not, right? This is actually more akin to using a condom for example.”
But when CWA's Wendy Wright explained that in fact, Plan B, is not like a condom but can act to prevent the implantation of an embryo Sanchez couldn't accept the truth and accused her of making things “fuzzy.”
Wright responded with the manufacturer's explanation of the three ways the drug works and said the third way is “inhibiting implantation – an incomplete sentence – an implantation of an embryo.”
“If it does work in that third way then it would end a new life, so at the very least we need to be honest with women so they can make their own choice if they want to take something that may end a new life,” Wright explained.
Sanchez couldn't handle that kind of honesty and contradicted Wright saying, “But wait a minute. Now you've made it a little bit more fuzzy than I thought it was going in. Does this stop – we're not killing an –we're not destroying an embryo here, we're getting, we're stopping the embryo from being fertilized.”
Perhaps Sanchez should have been watching his own network that morning when Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained that the drug can work in the same three ways Wright said: preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation. A spokesperson with the Plan B information hotline confirmed that the drug works in those three ways.
Gupta did not take a position on whether this counted as “terminating a pregnancy,” but he left it open saying “you can define it how you want but that's basically how this particular medication works.”
Disparaging pro-lifers is nothing new for the mainstream media, but the marginalization of women was supposed to have gone out with the feminist revolution. If CNN's coverage is any indication, that only applies to one kind of woman: liberal pro-choice feminist.
Julia A. Seymour is assistant editor of the Business & Media Institute.