Rarely will one see a politician so completely — and so bluntly — embrace the utilitarian point of view on abortion as Alabama state representative John Rogers did yesterday. Unfortunately, the media’s focus on conservative reaction to it is a pattern we see all too often. Objecting to a bill in the legislature that would increase restrictions on abortion, Rogers wondered why anyone bothers because we’d end up killing the kids anyway (via Twitchy and RealClearPolitics):
“Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later.”
In case anyone’s wondering, Rogers wasn’t just making a nuanced satirical argument about the death penalty. Ryan Saavedra, who first captured Rogers’ remarks, presents a later argument from Rogers that goes all-in on eugenics as well:
Democrat Alabama State Representative John Rogers advocates for abortion by highlighting “retarded” and “half deformed” babiespic.twitter.com/v6jmWnIbpK
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) May 2, 2019
Good Lord. The national media may not like to report on news stories that calls abortion into question, but it’s tough to ignore this kind of rhetoric. And a number of news outlets didn’t, although many of them took the angle you’d expect. They covered the pouncing.
The Washington Post called the remarks “perplexing” but focused its attention on the “intense pushback.” Nowhere in the article does the Post mention Roger’s remarks about “retarded” and “half-deformed” babies, either:
A day after Alabama passed what could become the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country, state Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat, took to the House floor to voice his support for a woman’s right to choose.
But the perplexing words he used have drawn intense pushback from conservatives, who are orchestrating a nationwide push in state houses this legislative session to restrict abortion access and, they hope, force the Supreme Court to reevaluate Roe v. Wade.
The International Business Times put the pouncing in its headline, noting that Rogers’ “sick comment on abortion invites backlash”:
The Alabama House of Representatives passed an anti-abortion bill Tuesday that criminalizes abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, except in case where the life of a woman is threatened. As the bill, which was voted for by 74 Republican representatives and opposed by 3 Democratic House members, heads to the state Senate, comments from Democratic State Representative John Rogers from Birmingham during the debate has provoked a major backlash.
At least IBT mentioned the “retarded” comment and called Rogers’ remarks “sick” rather than just “perplexing,” so they did better than the WaPo. The Hill ran with “Conservatives seize” as the first words in their headline, and “Republicans pounced” as the first two words of the article:
Republicans pounced Wednesday on remarks made by an Alabama state representative opposing a state bill that would criminalize abortion.
State Rep. John Rogers (D) said abortion “ought to be a woman’s choice,” before adding, “Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or you kill them later.”
“You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, and you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later,” he continued, according to a video posted online.
The comments were widely circulated among conservatives and other right-leaning media outlets the day after an Alabama bill banning nearly all abortions passed the state’s House of Representatives.
The Hill also curiously skips over the part of Rogers’ remarks where he talks about aborting “retarded” and “half-deformed” children. Maybe that would make all the pouncing look too reasonable. At least it appears news editors and reporters at major news outlets worry that’s the case — a lot more reasonable than abortion itself.
That won’t be the end of the media bias in this case, either. Had a pro-life Republican said something as awful and extreme as this, reporters would demand to know whether every other pro-life Republican disavowed those comments. Remember how that worked with Todd Akin in the 2012 cycle? Well, don’t expect a repeat in 2019-2020.