Life (and Its Advocates) Passing Before Our Eyes

What Will Cure Contagious Blindness?

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By Dr. Rebecca Oas

WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On Monday, Jan. 23, about 400,000 people marched in defense of the unborn in the United States capital. Despite the cold January weather and persistent rain, people from all over the country, as well as many international visitors, joined in the annual demonstration marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States 39 years ago.

Those not purposely following the event, however, could well be forgiven for missing it entirely -- in what has become a ritual counterpart to the march itself, the mainstream news media, both local and national, paid little attention. 

Coverage of the march in the local newspaper, The Washington Post, has received criticism for its failure to present a complete image of the event. An editorial published in the Post on Friday the 27th criticized the photography in particular, noting that there was not a single wide shot of the march that might have given an indication of its scale, as well as the extent of coverage granted to the comparatively small number of counter-protesters.[1] According to the editorial, the Post does not estimate crowd size at such events, although a report regarding the national Occupy movement's "Occupy Congress" march on the 17th apparently ignored this policy when it ventured to guess that the event drew 1,000 to 1,500 people -- less than a hundred times fewer demonstrators than those estimated to have attended the March for Life.[3] The title of the Post article in Tuesday's edition referenced "thousands of youths" being in attendance, which, while technically accurate, seems quite myopic for a news agency which claims to strive for unbiased reporting.[4] 

One can detect the note of frustration in a quote from the Post's director of photography, Michel du Cille: "We can never please this crowd. We try for fairness to show both sides."[1] The problem with this approach is that a news photographer's primary function is to present an event as it happened, without concealing or over-emphasizing its attributes. Reporting on the March for Life is not the same as reporting on the abortion issue as a whole. While this is obviously not a reflection of nationwide demographics, at the March for Life, the pro-lifers were (to borrow the Occupy movement's terminology) the 99%, and it would not be unfair or unbalanced to report that fact.

While it might be tempting to take a harsh view of those who can witness 400,000 people marching by and see a nearly-empty street, we cannot forget that many in this country and around the world have looked upon images of unborn children in the womb, or the horrifying images of those aborted, and seen mere pieces of tissue. Unlike ordinary forms of blindness, this one is contagious, and is being intentionally spread by pro-abortion organizations who would work to stop mothers from being shown ultrasound images of their children as a component of pregnancy counseling. 

However, if unborn children are capable of inducing mass blindness in our culture, there are signs that they might also be "useful" in curing it: in the same Tuesday issue of the Washington Post which reported the March for Life, the very front page proclaimed the headline "Embryonic stem cells appear to restore sight."[5] 

The report to which the article is referring is noteworthy in that it is the first description of human embryonic stem cells transplanted into human patients in the scientific literature. The purpose of the trial was to ascertain the safety of the transplant, and while the result of the experiment appeared to be an improvement in the vision of two patients, the authors of the report caution that they are "uncertain at this point whether any of the visual gains we have recorded were due to the transplanted cells, the use of immunosuppressive drugs, or a placebo effect."[6] In short, the primary finding of the experiment was that the transplant of human embryonic stem cells into these two women did not make their condition worse -- any other results cannot as yet be definitively attributed to the stem cell transplants. Nevertheless, this report was deemed to merit front-page placement in the Washington Post, whereas the March for Life coverage was assigned to the inner Metro section.

Later this year, United States citizens will cast their votes for the person who will be president for the next four years. In a time of economic hardship, high unemployment, and a monumental national debt, some conservative leaders have urged their followers to focus on the economy rather than social issues such as defense of life and family when choosing their candidate. Despite the lack of coverage of the March for Life in the mainstream media, it is widely said among advocacy groups that every letter sent to a Congressman represents 100 people who share the view, and every personal visit represents 1,000. 

By this metric, it stands to reason that every person willing to travel to the nation's capital and spend hours braving the cold and rain represents the views and prayers of a great many others, and when hundreds of thousands converge annually, the media and politicians alike ignore it at their peril. But those who are willing to open their eyes will see that much like the unborn human children themselves, the movement to protect them is growing, moving, and indisputably alive.

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Rebecca Oas, PhD, is a fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International, and she is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University. Her writings may be found at HLI America's Truth and Charity Forum.

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[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/march-for-life-coverage-was-informative-but-presented-a-misleading-picture/2012/01/27/gIQA9lbPWQ_story.html

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/handful-of-protesters-arrested-during-occupy-congress/2012/01/17/gIQAjGgO6P_story.html

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/thousands-of-youths-join-antiabortion-march-for-life/2012/01/23/gIQAXL85LQ_story.html

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/embryonic-stem-cells-appear-to-restore-some-vision-to-legally-blind-patient/2012/01/23/gIQAoHMPLQ_story.html (The online headline differs from that of the print edition.)

[6] http://press.thelancet.com/stemcelleyes.pdf