Darrel Frost

The Abortion Issue

In June, when the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, newsrooms responded in vastly different ways. Several outlets vowed to pay for employees’ abortions across state lines; MSNBC broadcast for nearly four hours without an ad break; Fox warned of activists’ “rage.” Some editors angsted over bias; Gannett warned staff not to post, or even like, anything on social media “that could appear to indicate support for any side or group.” Meanwhile, across the country, state lawmakers were making it increasingly difficult to receive care. People who had been working in abortion services for years were suddenly doused with media attention. Sources felt vulnerable in ways they hadn’t before. Amid widespread panic, journalists needed to convey, among other things, that many poor and minority communities had lacked abortion access for a long time. There has never been consensus in the press about how to cover abortion in America. Yet doing our job well has the highest stakes.