William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE FIRST DAY:  Well, I see we've gotten through one day without Roe v. Wade, and there's been no increase in global warming.  They are related, aren't they?  Or is it Covid 19 that's related to abortion, and to global warming.  Whatever.

You all know the basics of what happened yesterday.  You don't need a review from me.  There will be no pop quiz.  However, I spent most of the day monitoring television and internet coverage of the Supreme Court's decision, and would like to make the following observations:

1.  The event:  We must realize that the decision did not come as a shock.  It was expected, by press, by the public, and by the advocates on both sides.  A draft of Justice Alito's opinion had been outrageously leaked. Thus, I don't recall anyone fainting when the decision was announced yesterday, and threats of suicide by the anchors at MSNBC were subdued.

2.  The media did a passable job.  No medals here, but, with the exception of the usual fringe characters and mental-home escapees, most journalists seemed to take the story seriously and tried to report it reasonably well.  A larger than usual contingent of journalists tried to explain what the decision said, and what it clearly did not say.

3.  That noted, I was surprised at how unprepared the media was with background material.  The story of Roe v. Wade started in the 1960s with the rise of the women's movement.  Abortion was always at the center of its demands.  Yet, I saw and heard little history of that period yesterday.  When Roe was handed down in 1973, TV news was well into the era of videotape.  The archives contain any number of items that could have been shown yesterday – marches, sit-ins, speeches, debates.  Again we saw what we often see in TV news, a real shortage of basic research.

4.  Similarly, and shockingly, there was no real attempt – from the examples that I monitored – to explain and portray the medical developments that have always been critical to the  abortion debate.  I would have liked to have seen examples of sonograms then (in 1973) and now.  I would have liked to have reports on progress in pre-natal medicine.  What happens to abortion when physicians can save a baby in the womb at one month?  What will the debate be like, if there's still a debate?

5.  Also, there was virtually no mention of religion, which has played an enormous role in the history of the abortion debate.  Attitudes toward life, often taken from religious doctrine, are at the very foundation of the discussion. 

6.  The political aspects.  Will this decision affect how people vote in November?  The reporters I saw delving into this arena were properly cautious.  We don't know yet.  The initial, emotional reactions, on either side, may fade away under pressure from higher prices and other economic setbacks, and foreign crises. 

7.  How do men feel about the decision?  Properly, most interviews were with women.  But men vote too, and one Fox reporter noted that only, in his estimate, five percent of the demonstrators he witnessed were male.

Those are some of my observations from yesterday.   Obviously, I could not see and hear every part of the action.  If you've seen anything that contradicts what I've written, please let me know.

June 25,  2022