Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Opinion

Some March for Life fun facts and a few thoughts on media blackouts

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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January 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Hands up everyone who went to the March for Life this year. (All those still waiting to get out of DC-area airports can just whimper weakly.) I know quite a few people here in Europe, Brits, Italians, Irish, Poles, who go every year and wouldn’t miss it, and they are bringing the idea back to Europe with them.

I went last year, but this year just couldn’t face the punishing 25 hours of travel time and 36 hours of recovery time it would take. But the memories of the march are still with me. While the debate continues as to what, concretely, the March for Life accomplishes in the political realm, the one thing we all agree on is that it’s fun. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s a happy time over an issue that can sometimes seem hopelessly depressing. Even the mainstream media, if they were to show up, could not miss the fact that no one there is angry, no one is waving a fist.

I thought I would look a few things up about it, and pass them along, with some thoughts about that annual bugbear, the media blackout.

Most protest marches and demonstrations on the Mall are one-time events and, it being the capital of the most powerful nation on earth, it has all the biggest ones. The March for Life is one of only two that are held annually. The other one is “Rolling Thunder,” a demonstration of bikers for the benefit of American POWs held every year on Memorial Day.

This means that with this year’s rough estimate of 400,000, the March for Life in Washington is by far the largest single annual political event in the United States. And possibly in the western world.

In the history of Mall demonstrations, very few have come close to the size of crowds that attended on January 22nd this year. 500,000 demonstrated in 1969 for an end to the Vietnam War. The same number was recorded gathering again in 1971 for the same purpose.

By comparison, even the causes that enjoy broad social support, that we would now call “politically correct,” do not draw anything like these numbers. In 1972, a demonstration against South African apartheid drew 8-10 thousand participants. In 1976, a demonstration organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW) drew 16,000 in support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

It is also notable that the issues at the heart of the Culture Wars, abortion and homosexuality, seem to draw the most people. In 1987, when AIDS held pride of place in the media, an estimated 500,000 homosexuals and their supporters attended a rally on the Mall. And in 1989, a pro-abortion counter protest to the March for Life, titled “March for Women’s Lives,” another NOW project, brought another 500,000; a similar event with similar attendance occurred in 2004.

It used to be the job of the National Parks Service to issue crowd size estimates, but in 1995, following a controversy over their reporting of the Million Man March, they gave it up. Since then, crowd size estimates come from demonstration organizers and the media, which one might imagine leaves a great deal of room for interpretation depending on the media’s attitude toward a given issue.

Pro-life people are also not the only ones who complain of “media blackout.” It’s a surprise to see that pro-abortion demonstrators complain almost as often as we do that the media is ignoring them or giving unbalanced accounts. Yes, it’s true. It may prompt our jaws to drop in incredulity, but leftists, progressives, feminists, abortionists and homosexualists regularly complain, at least in the U.S., of a pervading right-wing bias in the media that makes it impossible for them to get their message out. No, I’m not making it up.

In 2009, Don Smith, a Democratic organizer and activist in Seattle – a typical Left Coast leftist – complained that at a pro-abort rally he attended in DC, the media focused their cameras on the lone pro-life counter-protester amidst a sea of pro-aborts.

At another rally in Seattle protesting an appearance by then-President George Bush, Smith asked a photographer why only photos of the president shaking hands, and not of the rally appeared in the local papers. The photographer said his editors “decided that the President’s photos would generate the most reader interest. It was a business decision.”

(I also had a bit of smile when he said, “Progressives also need to build a viable, alternative online press … at least a few successful, well-edited websites that have enough market share and respectability to be powerful.” At least that’s one lesson we are getting on this side of the fence. And thanks again to all the readers who continue to make it possible, by the way…)

It is probably a good lesson in perspective for us to remember that the first task for journalists and editors is to attract an audience, to figure out what is “newsworthy,” and as rule, marches and rallies are not, no matter what the cause. I would think this especially true if it were a rally that predictably happens on the same date every year.

If the news can be thought of as a form of non-fiction drama, a kind of non-stop soap opera, it is well to remember the axiom laid down by Aristotle in his treatise on poetry, that for drama to exist, there must be conflict. It is the conflict that journalists are after, since it is only conflict that arouses the public’s interest and sympathy, what Aristotle called “pity and fear.”

This is the reason, despite complaints that the news is a downer, that “good news” really doesn’t sell. It is human nature. Tragedy sells. Sex sells. Holocausts, pogroms, genocides and bombings sell. A day in the life of the smiling people of Happy Village…? not so much.

This rule was brought home to me some months ago when I attended a press conference at the Vatican to introduce Peter Seewald’s interview book with Pope Benedict … you know, the one that caused the latest big kerfuffle over condoms. As I was waiting for the bigwigs to come in, I found myself seated next to a venerable Vaticanista, someone who is on our side and who has been reporting closely on Vatican affairs for decades. I expressed my surprise at the packed house; it looked as if every journalist in Europe were there. She smiled and said, “It’s about the pope and sex. It’s a seller!”

This does not exonerate the media, and I think it is obvious that the coverage of the March for Life, when there is any, is wildly, laughably unbalanced, but Smith’s point is well taken. One reporter he asked about news coverage of rallies and protests, said, “most rallies simply aren’t newsworthy.”

“It’s not news when progressives protest against war, or when Catholics protest against abortion.”

Nonetheless, Smith’s photographer friend made the point: “Only if rallies are massive (like hundreds of thousands of people), or violent, do they get coverage.” While the March for Life doesn’t qualify when it comes to violence (there isn’t any), it does seem that the hundreds of thousands who show up annually might draw the attention of the media bigshots, at least more than they do.



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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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