Washington Post Aids Anti-Abortion Rights Smear Campaign With Falsehood

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

UPDATE: Melinda Henneberger has corrected her claim that the activist was never asked if she wanted to go through with the procedure.

Washington Post political writer Melinda Henneberger falsely suggested that a woman depicted in an undercover video issued by the anti-abortion rights group Live Action was never asked whether she was sure she wanted a legal late-stage abortion despite the "apparent qualms" the woman demonstrated.

Henneberger's falsehood aids the group's attempt to smear an abortion clinic as using practices similar to those of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider facing multiple murder charges resulting from the monstrous and horrific procedures he is alleged to have carried out under the guise of women's reproductive health.

Live Action has falsely claimed that their video, currently being trumpeted by the conservative media, reveals "illegal and inhuman practices" at an abortion clinic in New York City.

The Live Action video depicts a woman at Dr. Emily Woman's Health Center in the Bronx inquiring after an abortion in the 23rd week of her pregnancy -- a procedure that is legal in New York State. The woman asks detailed questions about that procedure to both a clinician and a counselor at the facility.

Henneberger writes that given those questions, the woman should have been asked if she was sure she wanted to have an abortion:

You'd think that a patient with so many apparent qualms about a late-stage abortion would at some point get her questions answered with a question: Are you sure you want to go through with this?

But if the tape is as undoctored as this clinic seems to be, you'd be wrong. (A message left on the center's 24-hour line wasn't returned on Sunday.)

In fact, in a portion of the woman's visit to the clinic not included in Live Action's supposedly "undoctored" video, a counselor at the facility asked the woman that very question in response to her repeated inquiries. From the full transcript of the woman's visit, posted by Live Action [emphasis added]:

COUNSELOR: Now are you sure this is what you're comfortable doing? Are you sure you want to do a termination? Because you knew you were pregnant at two months, in some way or another you were thinking about continuing this pregnancy.

WOMAN: Yeah.

COUNSELOR: So what changed your mind from then to now?

WOMAN: Well, I don't really feel like talking about it.

COUNSELOR: Ok. You don't have to go into detail, but I mean is there, there has to be something that can be rectified? I mean do you want to continue this pregnancy because I don't want you to go home after doing your dilation and everything and say "You know what, I think I want to keep the pregnancy". Because that's when we run into problems

The counselor goes on to suggest that the woman consult with a friend before making a final decision about whether she wants to go through with the procedure.

It's no surprise that Live Action is fabricating smears against an abortion clinic -- the group and its founder, Lila Rose, have a long record of concocting such hoaxes. The Post, however, has a responsibility not to compound the group's falsehoods by introducing their own.

UPDATE: The Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger has posted the following correction to her story:

Correction: An earlier version of this column said the activist was never asked if she was sure she wanted to go through with the abortion, but she was, on a portion of the interview not shown on the tape, according to a full transcript provided by the activist.

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
The Washington Post
Melinda Henneberger
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