Kudos to Steve Ertelt at LifeNews.com (the source of the graphic at the right) and to others in the pro-life community for getting the notoriously stubborn Associated Press to effectively back down on a false claim it made about the availability of abortion services in the version of the health care bill passed by a House Committee last week.
On August 3, Ertelt wrote the following (link to AP story added by me for fair use, discussion, and refutation purposes):
The Associated Press is coming under criticism from pro-life advocates who say its recent wrap-up article on the health care debate is misleading.
AP writer Charles Babington wrote a “fact check” story attempting to make the case that abortion is not included in the health care bills and that President Barack Obama doesn’t want it to be included.
But Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says that’s not the case.
AP claims that “Obama recently told CBS that the nation should continue a tradition of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care.’”
“If Obama had actually said that, it would have been a very newsworthy statement indeed. But Obama didn’t say it. AP has grossly distorted what Obama actually said,” Johnson tells LifeNews.com.
….. (In an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric on July 21), Obama added, “I’m pro-choice, but I think we also have the tradition in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care.”
Johnson said Obama’s remark was an observation and not an endorsement of keeping abortion out of health care, as the Associated Press reported.
“Contrary to the AP account, Obama did not in any way endorse this ‘tradition’ and he did not say that the ‘tradition’ should be continued,” Johnson noted. That is “not surprising since Obama consistently has opposed limits on funding abortion during his time in the Illinois state senate and the U.S. Senate, and he reiterated his flat opposition to the Hyde Amendment when he ran for President.”
….. “We respectfully ask that AP retract this distorted rewrite on what Obama said on an important public policy issue,” Johnson said.
On August 5, in commenting on an AP follow-up report, Ertelt noted that AP had in effect corrected itself:
Two days after LifeNews.com exposed an Associated Press article that mislead its readers on the abortion funding contained in the government-run health care plans, AP has backtracked. The news service is now reporting that the bills Congress is considering will result in taxpayer-funded abortions.
AP features a new article today with the headline, “Gov’t insurance would allow coverage for abortion.”
Reporter Ricardo Alonsozaldivar writes, “Health care legislation before Congress would allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to cover abortions, a decision that would affect millions of women and recast federal policy on the divisive issue.”
That’s a far cry from the weekend story where AP writer Charles Babington wrote a “fact check” that claimed it is “not clear” if abortion funding is included in the legislation.
The Babington story was so bad that Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com, “We respectfully ask that AP retract this distorted” article.
While the first AP piece claimed the health care bill “could create a government-run insurance program, or insurance ‘exchanges,’ that would not involve Medicaid” that could involve abortion funding, the new piece says that is now the case.
AP admitted that the Capps amendment a House committee adopted last week “would allow the public plan to cover abortion” with “dollars from beneficiary premiums.” It added, “Likewise, private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion.”
Johnson told LifeNews.com today that the AP piece “confirms what we’ve been saying: Under both Obama-backed bills, House and Senate, the federal government would run a huge system of subsidizing elective abortion.”
This is all to the good, but the fact remains that Babington’s bogus take — in a “Fact Check” report, no less — is still out there, uncorrected. A review of the latest list of AP corrections, which includes items going back into July, shows no indication of an admission that Babington was wrong. He was, and the fact that AP won’t correct or pull his report — while tacitly acknowledging in a separate report that he was indeed wrong — is yet another disgraceful episode in the annals of the self-described “Essential Global News Network.”
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.