COMMENTS: Terminated

On any normal news day, the Supreme Court would have hogged the headlines when it permitted a ban on a type of abortion for the first time since the Roe v Wade decision of 1973. The procedure was scrupulously labeled by all three networks. It is sometimes used in those 10% of all abortions that are performed after the first trimester. It involves removing the bottom half of the fetus from the womb before terminating the pregnancy. Pro-choicers call this an "extraction." Pro-lifers call it a "partial birth." The networks chose care: it is "a procedure that opponents call partial birth abortion," according to NBC's Chip Reid: "what Congress calls partial birth abortions" was how CBS' Wyatt Andrews put it; "the law is called the Partial Birth Abortion Act," ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg (subscription required) explained.

Terminology aside, all three reporters called this a major change. "Huge" said CBS' Andrews…ABC's Crawford Greenburg saw a "seismic shift"…"monumental" was how activists on both sides characterized it for NBC's Reid. The newly-configured court allowed the ban without any exceptions to protect the life health of the pregnant woman. It was a 5-4 vote, with both of President George Bush's appointees, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, casting the key votes to form the new majority. For once pro-life conservatives and abortion rights activists were in agreement. The latter told NBC's Reid that "this may be only the start of a campaign to limit abortion rights" while the former told ABC's Crawford Greenburg that it "will lead to more restrictions on abortion."


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