Action Alert!

So who's the abortion 'extremist' now?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 25, 2012

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has done a nice analysis of a familiar topic: media bias in coverage of the abortion debate. Douthat keys on the media treatment of Richard Mourdock, who has reporters gasping for breath in disbelief because he said a human life—even a life conceived by rape—is a “gift from God.” Mourdock, a candidate for the US Senate seat in Indiana, opposes abortion even in cases of rape.

Douthat, who is firmly pro-life, concedes that Mourdock’s position is unpopular. You might call it “extreme,” if by “extreme” you mean his view is at odds with mainstream public opinion. But if that’s the standard of measurement, Douthat argues, then reporters should identify President Obama as “extreme” as well, since his views on abortion are equally distant from the center of the road.

Thus, regarding the furor generated by Mourdock’s comments, Douthat writers:

Per Gallup’s abortion polling, only about 22 percent of Americans agree with him. But the same polling also shows, as a for instance, that only 24 percent believe that second-trimester abortion should be legal (as it is almost without restriction under current law), and only 10 percent believe that it should be legal in the third trimester. In both cases, the Democratic Party’s position is starkly at odds with the public’s, yet you almost never see a national Democrat pressed the way Republicans have been pressed on the rape issue.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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