Susan J. Demas: Right-wing lies on abortion paved the way for Trump – Michigan Advance

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During no-filter November, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey sent shockwaves across Michigans Capitol when he compared abortion to the scourge we endured when we still had slavery in this country.

This, of course, wasnt the first time the Clarklake Republican popped off; he also recently declared that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democrats were on the batshit crazy spectrum.

But Shirkey was merely parroting a popular and completely offensive and ahistorical anti-abortion talking point, just like other GOP leaders, including U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson and former Arizona U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (who resigned after creepily offering an aide $5 million to be his surrogate).

Extremist and inaccurate language begets extremist and medically inaccurate and sometimes impossible policy, like in Ohio, where a new bill would require doctors to re-implant an ectopic pregnancy. Such a procedure doesnt exist. Ectopic pregnancies can kill women. Republican legislators apparently dont care.

I dont believe Im typing this again but, thats impossible. Well all be going to jail, Ohio ob-gyn David N. Hackney wrote on Twitter.

Shirkey offers no apology for comparing abortion to slavery in radio interview

And this isnt even the worst legislation to come from our neighbors to the southeast. Another bill creates two new felonies, abortion murder and aggravated abortion murder, which Rewire News says would make it possible in some cases for both abortion providers and pregnant people who obtain abortions to be put to death.

Nothing says pro-life like state-sanctioned murder over health care.

As deplorable as Shirkeys rhetoric was, its nothing compared to the president, whose impeachment for attempting to extort a foreign power to investigate his political enemies hurts [Shirkeys] heart.

The new popular Republican lie spread by President Trump in a rambling, gruesome fashion is that doctors are actually killing live babies after theyre born something that is absolutely not happening. And as millions of women, like myself, have given birth in hospitals, we are aware firsthand that this is not a standard medical practice.

Susan J. Demas: Trumps dehumanizing abortion lie is about bringing home the base for 2020

But its not just Trump being Trump, even though hes lied 13,435 times in his presidency through Oct. 19 alone. Hes just spreading the infanticide myth endorsed by more genteel Republicans like Meghan McCain and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

And theres a crass political reason to amp up the anti-abortion fight for 2020. The Republican is getting impeached, his popularity remains dangerously low (despite the bizarrely stubborn Trump voters still love Trump genre) and people are sick of his tweets and constant drama. A thrice-married president who was caught paying off a porn star isnt the most inspiring figure for evangelicals, the GOPs most-reliable voting block.

So Trump has no choice but to pretend that hes the white knight of the pro-life movement and sell scared Republican voters on the idea that hes the only thing standing between them and godless liberals sacrificing babies in the delivery room. So far, they seem willing to swallow the big lie.

Its somewhat fitting for one of Trumps biggest lies to be about reproductive freedom, because the anti-abortion movement has trafficked in misinformation and falsehoods for years as scare tactics.

Susan J. Demas: Tyranny of the 3%: How abortion law gets made in Michigan

Theres the lie that abortion causes breast cancer (the American Cancer Society says no). Theres the lie that its a risky procedure so clinics must be overly regulated and shut down (something that fueled legislation in Michigan), even though abortion is an overwhelmingly safe procedure (and indeed, much safer than giving birth). And theres the lie that most women regret their abortions, even though an overwhelming majority do not.

But manufacturing misinformation is a cottage industry for the anti-abortion movement. And the media share a lot of blame in spreading it.

Theres an enormous amount of deference and leeway given to anti-abortion groups because of the premise that they have a moral, often religious objection to a basic part of womens health care. Reporters are trained to be cynical, but its considered rude and disrespectful to question if anti-abortion politics are really rooted in misogyny, even though many pro-life politicians dont support other aspects of womens equality. (Shirkeys advice was to ignore a Michigan equal pay directive this year).

Susan J. Demas: Time for male journalists to step up and call out sexism in politics

Another factor is that well-funded anti-choice groups complain very loudly about coverage they dont like. A decade ago, a newspaper stopped running my columns when I had the audacity to write that a law legalizing embryonic stem cell research probably could have helped my grandfather who just died of Alzheimers indeed, quite the radical argument.

But by printing the lies and mistruths of the anti-abortion movement for the sake of balance and to avoid angry calls and emails from their lobbyists we in the media do our readers a great disservice. We also violate our core mission of informing the public.

Can we really look ourselves in the eye as journalists if we dutifully include a Republican lawmakers babbling that he believes re-implanting ectopic pregnancies will work even though its a twisted fantasy out of Frankenstein with no roots in scientific reality?

Theres a real cost to both-sides journalism.

Anti-abortion group with troubled history earns Whitmer veto

For those shaking their heads and wondering how we ended up with someone who lies with such abandon in the White House, examining the medias longstanding tolerance for lies from some of Trumps biggest backers in the anti-abortion lobby might be a good place to start.

Didnt we send the message that as long as its about a controversial issue or said by a prominent person that well give mistruths oxygen in stories? Wasnt that opening seized upon by Trump, who got endless coverage in 2016 for outrageous lies like declaring Mexicans are rapists and has since continued unabated as president?

This isnt a comfortable place to be for many journalists, but its something we have to reckon with and before 2020.

Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the states foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TVs Off the Record. In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advances chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigans premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susans award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Posts list of Best Political Reporters, the Huffington Posts list of Best Political Tweeters and the Washington Posts list of Best Political Bloggers. Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigans fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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Susan J. Demas: Right-wing lies on abortion paved the way for Trump - Michigan Advance

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