Pro-Abort Leader Admits He Lied; Networks Don't Yet

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A leading figure in the pro-abortion movement has publicly admitted that he lied when he said that partial-birth abortions are extremely rare and are performed only to save a woman's life or prevent damage to her reproductive organs when her baby is severely deformed.

Partial-birth abortion is also called "Intact Dilation and Evacuation" or "Dilation and Extraction" by supporters, and "Brain Suction Abortion" by opponents.

Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, now admits that in fact the procedure is performed routinely on healthy women with healthy babies.

Fitzsimmons says that he lied because he felt it was necessary to protect the cause of "abortion rights". After an appearance on ABC's "Nightline" in which, he says, "I lied through my teeth", he began to grow increasingly uneasy. "It made me physically ill," he said, "I told my wife the next day, 'I can't do this again.'"

While he still defends abortion, he now believes that the debate should be based on truth.

In 1996, President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have made partial-birth abortion illegal. The House voted to override the veto, but the override failed to get enough votes in the Senate, and the veto stood. (The bill has been re-introduced in Congress several times since. Each time it passed, was vetoed, and the attempt to override the veto failed.)

The president justified his veto with the same arguments that Fitzsimmons now admits were fabrications. "There are a few hundred women every year who have personally agonizing situations where their children are born or are about to be born with terrible deformities, which will cause them to die either just before, during or just after childbirth," Clinton had said. "And these women, among other things, cannot preserve the ability to have further children unless the enormity -- the enormous size of the baby's head -- is reduced before being extracted from their bodies."


I respect Mr Fitzsimmons for having the integrity to come forward and admit that he was wrong. That takes a lot of guts. Especially when you consider that many of his friends and colleagues are going to call him a traitor (or worse). I think he deserves some time to think through his position on abortion in general. If it's wrong to lie, isn't it also wrong to kill?

A spokeswoman for President Clinton refused to comment on Mr Fitzsimmons' statement. We do not know if the president knew his own statements were untrue when he made them. He certainly had been told many times. Perhaps he found it easier to believe his allies than his opponents on this issue. Or perhaps he was spreading untrue statements knowing they were untrue. We have no way of knowing which.

The same could be said of most of the reporters who covered the partial-birth abortion debate. The only major news organization I know of that reported the truth was the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps there were some others that I didn't happen to see or hear of, but they were clearly in the minority. Most journalists reported statements like those of Mr Fitzsimmons as fact. Either they didn't bother to check check crucial facts in their news stories, even after they had been repeatedly told that these statements were not true, or they reported them knowing that they were not true. Neither alternative paints a pretty picture of journalists: at best they were sloppy and irresponsible; at worst they were deliberately lying in their "news" reporting to advance their own political agendas.

And they wonder why their ratings are down and polls show that Americans have so little respect for the major media today. I saw a television talk show recently where reporters and media consultants pondered polls that showed they were losing respect. (This program centered around the Food Lion case, where a network was sued and lost for sending spies into a grocery store chain for an "exposé" on unsanitary practices. The reporters allegedly created most of the unsanitary conditions themselves and then filmed them for the story. But that's another story.) The media people came up with conclusions like, It must be because we report so much bad news, and people resent the messenger rather than the message. And, When polls say people don't "like" us, that doesn't mean they don't respect us.

Hey, I've got a theory: Maybe people neither like nor trust you because they know that you lie in order to manipulate them.

Posted 3 Sep 2000.

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