Nothing but contempt: Putting the lie to media coverage of Dr. Henry Morgentaler
“I have nothing but contempt for people who wish to deny women one of the fundamental rights to control their reproduction.” – Dr. Henry Morgentaler, 2010.
In the media avalanche following Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s death on May 29, two radically different views of the man quickly emerged. It was a rare article or newscast that didn’t use words like “polarizing” or “controversial” or “divisive” to describe him. The Globe and Mail was first out of the gate with the phrase “revered and hated” dominating their headline, while CBC gave us a choice between “hero or murderer.” Other media competed with catchy alliterations like “lauded and loathed,” “hero or hellion,” and “revered and reviled.”
Although nearly all mainstream media sources quoted pro-choice views, most also interviewed at least one anti-choice spokesperson (22 out of 35 news articles or broadcasts that I reviewed). Apparently, the media thinks that view has some kind of legitimacy and must be presented against the pro-choice view in the name of “balance.” Well, NO. The anti-choice position — that women must be compelled to carry every pregnancy to term under threat of criminal law regardless of circumstances — is an extremist view held by only 5 per cent of Canadians. It is also profoundly mistaken, cruel and undemocratic. As such, it does not deserve equal time or respect in Canada.
That tiny 5 per cent minority has great representation though — most, if not all, anti-choice organizations in Canada adhere to that same extremist belief. They don’t advocate it openly anymore because they know the public finds it abhorrent. But don’t be fooled — their dream is to ban abortion completely with no exceptions, the same goal as other anti-choice groups around the world. Recent cases in Ireland and El Salvador have shown conclusively that the anti-choice movement considers women to be merely vessels for babies, and that their lives should be sacrificed even for a doomed fetus with no chance of survival. Savita Halappanavar died tragically because of that doctrine — after suffering three days of “pro-life” induced pain and agony — and Beatriz in El Salvador came close to death’s door because of the same malevolent belief. Continue reading