“He’s losing it”
A timely article as abortionists and their supporters lie about what’s in Justice Samuel Alito’s draft overturning Roe v. Wade.
The recent arrival of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mike Royko’s death engendered moving and beautiful articles celebrating the talents of the iconic newspaper columnist.
Mostly, the celebration featured columns that could be classified as liberal or leaning liberal. But as he grew older like many people (including myself) his outlook sometimes appears to have shifted, to more conservative. But for that, he wasn’t celebrated. In Chicago’s newsrooms I heard it myself: “Mike Royko is losing it.”
A prime example was his passionate attack on the abortion industry and the media for covering up the brutal procedure called partial birth abortion in which the live infant’s brains are sucked out to make delivery easier. It can be done in the final days of gestation.
First, we were instructed with the certitude of a papal decree that the procedure was never used. When the evidence of its use couldn’t be denied, the abortion industry’s “disinformation” campaign insisted that it was “rarely used, for example, when the child is already dead.
Among the most vocal defenders of the “rarely used” line was Ron Fitzsimmons, head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers and longtime, prominent industry figure.
Until he later took it all back. Maybe it was his conscience, but in his confession he admitted to “lying through my teeth.” The procedure is frequently used, not just to save the woman’s life. In effect, it was used for any purpose until birth.
The lying angered Royko so much that he did something rare: writing back-to-back columns on the same subject. Those columns are reproduced in their entirety below. It’s followed by my own Chicago Sun-Times column. You might conclude that little has changed when it comes to abortion, the media, disinformation and science. If Royko were alive today and wrote this, the same crew that tried to censor Tribune columnist John Kass would have their boiling tar and feathers at the ready.
NEWS MEDIA, OTHERS SWALLOWED ABORTION LIE HOOK, LINE AND SINKER
By Mike Royko
When I started this job a few decades ago, a veteran columnist at the next desk offered advice. One rule was: “Never write about a subject when you’re mad. Wait until you calm down.”
Sensible words, and I usually try to follow them.
But on this day, there weren’t nearly enough hours left until my deadline for me to calm down about a whopper of a lie that a public figure named Ron Fitzsimmons has finally admitted telling.
Fitzsimmons runs the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.
And he says his conscience has nagged him into admitting “lying through my teeth” when he made public statements in 1995 that the controversial “partial birth abortion” was rarely used. And that it was used only when a woman’s life was in danger or the fetus was already severely damaged.
You probably remember the big debate on this issue. Those against this late-term procedure wanted it outlawed because they said it killed healthy, normal fetuses that were well into full development.
And the procedure is barbaric, they said. The fetus is partially delivered feet first, then a device is used to suck its brain out to collapse the head.
Fitzsimmons now admits that most such abortions are done on women who are healthy and fetuses that are healthy, but not because the woman is in danger or the fetus is unhealthy.
The abortion is performed for the same reason as other abortions: The woman wants it.
Fitzsimmons says he and others lied because the truth might have hurt the cause of abortion rights.
They were right. If it hadn’t been for those lies, eagerly accepted and passed along as gospel by the printed press and broadcast news, President Clinton would not have dared veto a bill that outlawed the procedure. And Congress wouldn’t have buckled and failed to override his veto.
That’s what is so infuriating: the silence of those in the medical field who knew it was a lie but failed to thunderously refute it.
And the willingness of the press to accept the lie and pass it along as fact. If more sheep are cloned, don’t be surprised if some come out looking like modern journalists.
A few physicians spoke up. Two wrote a piece for the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal that shredded the line peddled by people like Fitzsimmons. But they were ignored, probably because the Journal’s opinion sections are viewed by the rest of journalism as hopelessly conservative.
The press swallowed the lies like worms by a bass because the lies fit so neatly into what is sometimes referred to as a “world view” that is shared by those in the mainstream news media.
Part of that view seems to be that anyone who questions the need for the vast number of abortions performed each year is some kind of right-wing, bomb-tossing, gun-toting religious nut.
So when those who present themselves as social progressives say that only women who face death and fetuses who face life as vegetables are involved in partial birth abortions, the press is comforted and lets it go at that. Heaven forbid that the newsroom should offend any of the “don’t tell me what to do with my body” crowd.
It isn’t the first big lie that the media have bought and resold.
Some years ago, gay organizations and public health people launched an intense “We’re All at Risk” campaign. This meant that we were all equally vulnerable to the threat of AIDS.
Common sense and existing evidence said otherwise: If you didn’t have anal intercourse with a man or borrow a needle from a dopehead, what put you at risk?
But those who launched the propaganda campaign later admitted that they believed the fear would create sympathy for gays and spur increased spending on AIDS research.
Eventually, a few skeptical reporters shot holes in the campaign. But not until others who questioned it had been labeled bigots and homophobes. One journalist who wrote a book on the subject lost his newspaper job, and his book, despite impressive hardcover sales, couldn’t attract a paperback publisher. It was politically correct censorship.
More recently, there was the media hysteria over the burning of black churches. Remember? Night riders were thought to be galloping all over the country, burning black churches. A massive racist conspiracy, possibly inspired by the oratory of political conservatives like Pat Buchanan.
Clinton, concerned frown and all, visited churches and recalled similar evil arsons in Arkansas when he was a youth–memories that turned out to be pure fiction.
Proposals were made to use federal funds to rebuild churches. Rich do-gooders kicked in money to organizations that made the most victimization noise.
Turned out it was more smoke than fire. After the nation’s press spread the arson story, calmer heads took a closer look. Most of the fires weren’t arson. No conspiracy. Black arsonists as well as white arsonists were arrested, proving that a nut is a nut, regardless of color. It was as if no one in an American newsroom knew that an old wooden rural church can actually have bad wiring. Not when Jesse Jackson is dishing out hot quotes about the second coming of the Ku Klux Klan.
Now we have Fitzsimmons blowing the whistle on himself. His conscience? Or was it that the truth was going to come out anyway?
Maybe from people such as the anti-abortion physician who will be the subject of Friday’s column.
Copyright Chicago Tribune Co. Feb 27, 1997
DOCTORS SEE LIES BEHIND REASONS FOR LATE-TERM ABORTIONS
By Mike Royko
Leading abortion advocates are circling their wagons, and poor Ron Fitzsimmons, once one of them, seems to have been shoved outside the tight circle.
Fitzsimmons is the conscience-stricken head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers who now admits that he took part in telling Americans the big lie about so-called partial–birth abortions.
During the national debate on the late-term brain-sucking procedure, Fitzsimmons was one of many pro-abortionspokespersons and media dupes who assured the nation that almost all late-term abortions were done to preserve the health of the mother or because the fetus had serious abnormalities.
Now, Fitzsimmons said, “I lied through my teeth.” And that most late-term abortions were done for the same reason as early abortions–because women wanted to end pregnancies.
Fitzsimmons‘ confession was barely out of his mouth when he was whopped by fellow abortion advocates, who held a news conference to say, in effect, that he was being truthful when, he now says, he was lying. But now he is lying when he says he is finally being truthful.
Typical was Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. She said: “If he thinks he lied, that’s his problem to deal with. We have not lied.”
Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Fitzsimmons had been “mixing up gestation with procedure.”
Whatever the heck that means.
While they squabble about who did or didn’t lie, let’s listen to someone else for once–genuine physicians, rather than the pro-abortion lobbyists and other non-medical spin experts who seem to get all the invitations to yap on TV.
One is Dr. Pamela Smith, former director of medical education in obstetrics and gynecology at Mt. Sinai Hospital. She recently resigned that post to do anti-abortion public-health work in the community and practice medicine at the Lawndale Health Center.
The only thing that surprised her about Fitzsimmons‘ confession was that he made it.
“Most of the time, there is nothing wrong with the baby or the mother (when late-term abortions are performed),” she said. “People have known about this for a decade.
“There is a clinic in New Jersey that said of the 3,000 abortions it did last year, 1,500 were late-term.
“So we went from being told that only 200 a year were being done in the entire country to one clinic saying it does 1,500 a year. Obviously, the actual number (of late-term abortions) is in the thousands.
“The media believe what they want to believe. And because a lot of doctors who have testified in support of the partial–birth ban have been pro-life, the knee-jerk response is that it is a pro-life/pro-choice thing.
“There’s been all this propaganda that it is done only because women need it. So people said: `If my wife needs to have this to save her life, she should have it.’ The problem is that it is not this procedure versus your wife’s life. It’s really infuriating to me to hear that women medically need this.”
One of the arguments for the late-term procedure is that it helps a woman preserve her fertility. Smith describes that as “fantasy.”
The future-fertility risk was one of the excuses offered by President Clinton when he vetoed the bill that would have outlawed the procedure.
Clinton said: “There are a few hundred women every year who have personally agonizing situations where their children are born or are about to be born with terrible deformities which will cause them to die either just before, during or just after childbirth.
“And these women, among other things, cannot preserve the ability to have further children unless the enormous size of the baby’s head is reduced before being extracted from their bodies.”
Which is bunk, according to Dr. Nancy Romer, chairman of obstetrics at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and a clinical professor at Wright State University.
“I don’t understand that argument about fertility at all,” she said. “We have no idea what happens to women who have this procedure down the road. We don’t have a clue. There is no scientific evidence that shows that procedure will preserve the fertility of women.”
Dr. Curtis Cook, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., said: “I can’t think of any situation where the procedure would be preferable over existing techniques. I question why it is not being taught or performed by the majority of people who specialize in these pregnancies.”
As for the propaganda campaign that led Clinton to veto the bill outlawing the procedure, Romer believes she understands it:
“Those who opposed the legislation have a much broader agenda, and that is to have totally unrestricted access to abortion. They will defend abortion rights blindly, regardless of the facts of the matter. Any legislation, if it’s anti-abortion, they are against it.
“They don’t think, `Is this procedure appropriate, who is doing it and why are they doing it?’ They don’t care about the details. They won’t acknowledge the truth of what we are saying because it defeats their larger agenda.”
So the whole battle is going to be fought in Congress one more time. And if a bill passes and gets to Clinton’s desk, maybe he can ask the CIA or the FBI to find out who is telling the truth before he makes any more somber pronouncements.
Copyright Chicago Tribune Co. Feb 28, 1997
The big lie
By Dennis Byrne
If I tried to recount here all the inaccuracies, half-truths and flat-out lies issued by the abortion industry in the 20 months I’ve been reporting on the fight over partial-birth abortions, there’d be no room in the paper for the Bulls’ score.
But I confess that in all that time I’ve never been as amazed, frustrated and angry as I was this week when a prominent abortion-rights advocate confessed that he was “lying through his teeth” when he repeated the industry’s prattle about how the procedure is rarely performed, and then just to save the lives of mothers or health of mothers bearing doomed or severely deformed infants. Angry not at the brave and honest Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of AbortionProviders, but at the way the abortion industry, embodied by Kate Michelman, is trying to continue the fakery.
One thing, though – you can’t accuse the industry of trying to float the same lie throughout. Counter one lie with facts, up pops another, as when I first wrote about the procedure on June 22, 1995. Immediately, the nasty messages arrived from industry toadies, accusing me of making the whole thing up. I didn’t have to. The grisly procedure had been detailed in the American Medical Association’s newspaper, the American Medical News. Proudly describing the technique was the doctor who invented it and another who used it. Together they used it hundreds of times a year. The reasons included mothers suffering from agoraphobia to fetuses having a cleft lip.
Unable to deny the existence of the procedure, the strategy switched. We were informed by Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, that the procedure isn’t so gruesome because the fetus was earlier killed by the anesthesia. As I reported Dec. 12, 1995, the American Society of Anesthesiologists was nearly blind with rage, saying her assertion had “absolutely no basis in scientific fact,” and that this type of misinformation could harm pregnant women . They told it to Congress, but drew little media mention.
And so it went: The abortion industry said it was done rarely, even though no one compiles reliable nationwide statistics on abortions. The industry claimed it was done only for the most serious of health reasons; that it was used only on severely deformed fetuses; that it was the only way to save a mother’s health or reproductive capabilities; that it was a safe procedure for women; that it was done only on late-term fetuses. Unchecked the disinformation flowed, repeated uncritically, as I have noted, by, among others, NBC and ABC, newspapers and the Associated Press, commentators and politicians.
In some of a dozen columns I wrote on the subject, I cited physicians and scientists whose challenges to the disinformation were ignored. They ran from local experts, such as Dr. Pamela Smith, medical education director in Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to national ones such as Dr. C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General. They agreed: The procedure – which was never peer reviewed by the medical profession and for which no safety data exist – was n ot medically necessary. Worse, it poses a medical risk to the mother.
Yet, I’ve watched the industry and its media pals push ahead with the lies, oblivious to the brutality and danger of it all, self-satisfied in their assertions of heightened compassion, unconscious of how the lie cheapens them, not us.
It’s not for me that I’m angry. It’s for those who, having labored for months to save thousands of infants-in-waiting, have had to put up with this nonsense. Still they rose, in the belief that someone has to speak for these children.
Dennis Byrne is a member of the Sun-Times editorial board. E-mail: email@example.com
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