In a recent report NARAL surveyed Twitter discussions and news coverage of abortion during a 6-month period last year and came up with ways they believe abortion should be covered in the media.

Reading through the eight findings and NARAL’s suggestions for how, from their perspective, abortion should more fairly be covered, the irony is not lost on those on the other side of the debate that many of the suggestions are only NARAL’s version of fair, accurate and unbiased reporting, and that there is a glaring lack of citations to support any of the suggestions.

Every suggestion given in the 20-page report, titled, “Accurate and Unbiased? A deep dive into how the media covers abortion in the U.S,” is based on their own ideological views, often presented in double-speak, and the hypocrisy oozes from almost every sentence.

Most of the findings and suggestions are just as biased as NARAL claims they want abortion coverage to not be, with some medical inaccuracy thrown in for fun.

The introduction opens with,

“When it comes to reproductive freedom, people’s personal ideologies should not interfere with others’ lives, nor should it trump science.”

When ideology rejects science

Here NARAL first exposes its own ideology.

NARAL believes abortion is healthcare, all about the pregnant woman, morally neutral or even good, and a necessity for women’s equality and freedom, and they would have us assume along with them that these are facts, not ideology.

But their ideology must reject the science that preborn humans are in fact humans for them to state that abortion does not “interfere with others’ lives.”

Their first main finding is that abortion is covered as a political issue, not a health issue.

Again, they assume abortion is health care without ever proving it. However, part of the abortion debate is whether abortion is health care. You cannot just say it is without establishing that, and then move on to claim that reporting on it as such is necessary for accurate and unbiased reporting.

It is obvious the organization’s ideology drives what they consider to be “fair and accurate.”


Their second finding says that who covers abortion is important because their “credentials” impact how abortion is described, and which voices are included in the coverage.

The implication is that health care reporters, presumably those reporters who support abortion, would frame abortion as a health care issue, and do so favorably, which is how NARAL wants it portrayed.

NARAL also recommends that journalists quote doctors or other “non-partisan” organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

What’s left unsaid, however, is that “non-partisan” does not mean “neutral” — though neutrality is what they imply.

Also regarding neutrality; ACOG supports access to abortion.

NARAL conveniently does not suggest for a source the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNS (AAPLOG) – an OBGYN group that would not go along with how NARAL wants to shape the abortion discussion.

Abortion stops a beating heart

Their third finding is where the hypocrisy of NARAL and their dehumanization of preborn humans gets shoved to the forefront:

“Charged rhetoric from anti-choice advocates are included in coverage, oftentimes with minimal context.”

NARAL is unhappy that coverage of “heartbeat bills” almost never mentions that, according them, 6 weeks into pregnancy (since last menstrual period – LMP) when the heartbeat can be detected, “is typically before a woman even knows she is pregnant …”

Additionally, NARAL is upset that,

“only four articles alluded to the notion that a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is not a heartbeat as we commonly understand it, but ‘pulsing of what will become the fetus heart beat’ or ‘fetal cardiac activity.’”

No source is given for the statement that women typically do not know they are pregnant at 6 weeks, yet they present it as fact.

In reality, Option Line hears from thousands of women a month who suspect they may be pregnant before their next period is even due!

Very little research has been done on the timing of pregnancy awareness, though one recent paper calculated the average awareness onset among American women at 5.5 weeks. With differences due to race/ethnicity, age, etc., this still puts the average age of detection at five to just under seven weeks — certainly not the narrative NARAL is trying to force!

In regard to “heartbeat bills,” NARAL rejects the notion that “heartbeat” is an accurate term and actually encourages the following context for these bills, calling it “electric activity among cells that will eventually become the heart,” but “not the same as a heartbeat that pumps blood.”

They cite a Washington Post article, with a doctor quoted saying, “An ultrasound will usually show electric activity in an embryo’s forming heart at about six weeks of pregnancy.” In the article the doctor said that although that activity is not the same as a heartbeat that pumps blood, the doctor often uses the term “heartbeat” with patients at that point because they are familiar with that terminology, but that it’s technically an inaccurate description.

This is absolutely, 100% false. And the fact that NARAL does not acknowledge the science of embryology and uses completely false information is yet one more reason to recognize this report as nothing short of an instruction manual to spread false information as propaganda.

Ask the experts

There are plenty of completely free educational resources concerning human embryological development funded by government programs and put together by actual embryologists, the people who should know the most about early prenatal human development.

That should be good enough for NARAL, right?

At 6 weeks’ pregnant, measuring from LMP like most OBGYNs do, that would put the age of the embryo around 4 weeks from conception/fertilization, which is the point embryologists reference.

Here is what an expert in human embryology has to say concerning the development of the heart in a young human:

“By day 22, coordinated contractions of the heart tube are present and push blood cranially from the sinus venosus.”

What else would you call the contractions of a specific organ made of specialized differentiated cells, pushing blood to/from one part of the body to another? A heartbeat, perhaps?

On that same webpage, a lecture of intermediate depth intended for college students with some previous embryology knowledge, there is a timeline with the note “heart tube begins to beat” pointing to right before week 4 starts.

The Endowment for Human Development states concerning the heart development in an early human embryo:

“As the first blood cells appear in the yolk sac 3 weeks after fertilization, blood vessels form throughout the embryo, and the tubular heart emerges…The heart begins beating 3 weeks and one day following fertilization.”

Both sources, which state a heartbeat is present at 22 days after fertilization, also have photos of human embryos with diagrams pointing out the heart structures, and a wealth of citations from other literature noting these developmental milestones and when they occur.

Forgive me for not believing NARAL when they use purposely misleading language such as “cells which will eventually become the heart.”

There is no “eventually become the heart” — those cells are the heart organ at that time in development.

Exploiting Division, Ignorance

Working through the report I tried to look for common ground, because believe it or not, common ground can be found with people on opposite sides of an issue, even if it’s small.

Their fourth finding is where I found some, where they note, “Partisan battlefield dictates abortion coverage,” and state that media coverage depicts all Democrats as pro-choice and all Republicans as pro-life.

Abortion coverage does seem to intentionally divide people on the issue, as though there are only two views on abortion, yet many Americans are somewhere in the middle when it comes to abortion.

Gallup polls have shown that since 1975, a large portion of the American population (usually 50% or more) wants abortion “legal only under certain circumstances,” pointing to a “mushy middle” of people who could identify either as pro-life with exceptions, or pro-choice with limits.

That was pretty much the end of the common ground.

NARAL also states media coverage should keep in mind that “a majority of Americans support legal access to abortion and do not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned.”

While it is true most Americans would like abortion to be legal, NARAL conveniently neglects to point out that much of this majority has a with-strings-attached kind of view.

The Gallup data above indicates many Americans support abortion, but with various restrictions, or for abortion only being legal in exceptional circumstances, neither of which really play into the narrative NARAL is trying to construct.

Additionally, it’s interesting NARAL wants the media coverage of abortion to focus so much on people not wanting Roe v Wade overturned, when only 44% of people polled under 30 even knew what Roe v Wade was about.

Further, Pew Research found “a sizable minority (35%) of those who think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases do not want the court to completely overturn its 1973 decision,” showcasing a general ignorance in the American population over what, exactly, Roe v Wade established as far as abortion legality and policy.

It’s not great when you have to rely on people’s ignorance to forward your own talking points.

Who has the most to lose when abortion occurs?

Findings 5, 6, and 7 of NARAL’s report only rehash earlier points, and employ the same hypocrisy, double-standards, and reliance on unproven assumptions.

So, skipping to finding 8, NARAL states, “Political coverage elevates political voices and excludes those most impacted by abortion: medical professionals and women.”

It is like NARAL, an abortion rights organization, is purposely acting dumb over what the abortion debate is all about; namely, if abortion kills preborn humans, and if doing that is wrong, then it should not be permitted in civil society.

Because, if you accept the scientific reality that abortion does indeed kill a human being (whether or not you regard that human being as valuable or rights-bearing), then you cannot say abortion most impacts women or abortionists, because it in fact most impacts those humans it directly targets for death.

By glossing over the fact of what abortion actually is, NARAL can try to tug at heartstrings by asking for more media coverage of women who had an abortion and didn’t regret it, who said it was the right decision for them – which of course, promotes their aforementioned ideology.

I wonder how NARAL would respond to more media coverage of abortion using the perspective of doctors from AAPLOG?

Or women who regret their abortions, as highlighted by Abortion Memorial, Silent No More, After the Abortion, Abortion Changes You, and Abort73, among other organizations?

An aversion to truth

On pages 15 and 16 of the report, NARAL gives “recommendations on how to contextualize inflammatory anti-choice terms if they are referenced in coverage” to journalists. They of course ignore how inflammatory the term “anti-choice” is and hypocritically state “pro-abortion” as a word needing to be changed or contextualized in media coverage of abortion.

Some of the complaints about terms used in abortion coverage are just down right nit-picky, with NARAL showing how much they want to shape not only the discussion on abortion, but the connotation of the act itself, even if it means telling people not to use accurate terms for abortion.

For example, the term “born alive” is said to be

“An inflammatory and inaccurate term not rooted in medical science and used by anti-choice activists and politicians who claim they want to protect an infant who is “born alive.” In these tragic cases, a baby is dying and politicians are suggesting taking away a parent’s ability to make the best decision for their family about palliative care for the infant in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

How is a baby who is still living after an abortion attempt not “born alive”?

How is “born alive” inflammatory or medically inaccurate, exactly?

NARAL never tells us.

They also don’t like the term “partial birth abortion,” claiming it’s not medically accurate and used “to evoke disturbing and violent imagery.”

The reality is the term is an accurate description of a D&X abortion. Terms do not have to be medical to be accurate and presuming to quash accurate language just shows how much abortion activists need to hide the truth to advance their cause.

D&X (dilation and extraction) abortions are disturbing and violent. If you need to change a word just so people don’t have the right idea about a procedure, maybe it’s the procedure that needs to be examined, not the use of accurate language used to describe it.

Other terms they don’t like and dismiss as medically inaccurate are: abortionist, unborn/preborn child and dismemberment abortion.

And NARAL suggests replacing the term “DIY abortions” with “self-managed abortion.” But self-managing an abortion means the very same thing as doing it yourself.

Propagandize to dehumanize

NARAL’s report is wrought with hypocrisy and unfounded assumptions. They inject their own bias into every single recommendation and statement of opinion yet try to cloak this as neutral facts.

They only want the media to cover abortion favorably, not accurately or without bias.

And to top it all off, the only way they and other abortion apologists get away with this is the constant dehumanization of preborn humans by abortion providers and activists – carried out in part through the use of their abortion rhetoric and narratives.

Does NARAL seriously believe anyone would not question their vested interest in abortion being portrayed a specific way in the media?

If the only way to win the public over on an issue is to completely lie to them, then it’s time to start examining your own stance on the issue.

This article was originally printed in Pregnancy Help News and is reprinted with permission

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I love science and teaching. I am passionate about using those interests to speak for those who can't.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.