A Pro-Life Media Trifecta

It's been quite a media week for the pro-life message, which is the consummate expression of personal responsibility.


The Washington Post on November 6th gave Page One treatment to the story of a Virginia teen who successfully petitioned her school board to allow a Pro-Life club to meet at her high school.  On November 5th ABC's World News with Charles Gibson featured a story about a medical breakthrough that allows pregnant women with breast cancer to continue their pregnancies while receiving chemotherapy.  And Bella, the little independent pro-life movie, continued to make her voice heard.  Bella came in third in per screen revenue the first weekend in November, behind only Jerry Seinfeld's The Bee Movie and Denzel Washington's American Gangster.  Both of those movies opened last weekend with multi-million dollar production budgets and advertising campaigns.

Aside from the insidious headline, “Teen Wins Fight for Antiabortion Club at School,” The Washington Post story was straight-up reporting of the efforts of 16-year old Stephanie Hoffmeier to get a Pro-Life Club into her Stafford, Virginia high school.  When Hoffmeier first approached the board with the proposal she was rejected.  The Post's Theresa Vargas reported that the young student felt God was calling her to pursue the establishment of the club and so she persisted, bringing suit against the school board with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Vargas reported fairly, “Even some advocates of strict separation of church and state say religious speech by students at public school is protected under the Constitution and federal law.  Why Vargas also felt compelled to comment on the teen's two-toned hair color, “affinity” for black fingernail polish, and “Hard Core Jesus Freak” stickers are a mystery.  Maybe that was a way of busting the Post's readership's stereotypes of what a Christian teen looks like.

Though she used the AP Stylebook approved terminology “antiabortion” to describe the club's views, Vargas couldn't change the name of the club in her story.  She reported the attendance of the Pro-Life Club's first meeting and closed the story with a positive quote from Hoffmeier, who stated that she was just the one who “took action,” but that there were “many, many others” interested in the club.

On World News, John Mackenzie reported on a medical breakthrough that is taking abortion off the list of choices for some pregnant women with breast cancer.

MACKENZIE: Seven months ago, Linda Sanchez got the best of news and the worst of news. She was told she was pregnant with her first child. Within days, this 26-year-old was also told she had breast cancer. … A doctor presented Linda with an excruciating choice. Delay treatment and possibly lose her life. Start chemotherapy and risk severe birth defects to her baby.

SANCHEZ: My doctor basically said it was me or the baby.

MACKENZIE: The message was clear. Linda should have an abortion. The same advice many other women in this situation receive. But pioneering research here at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has shown there's a better way. That it's now possible to treat a woman's breast cancer without harming her unborn child.

Mackenzie's story proceeded to detail the specialized treatment that several women have undergone with no ill effects for their children.  Footage in the story also included ultrasound images of Sanchez's unborn baby and her exquisite reaction to seeing them.  Powerful pro-life images like these rarely make it into the nightly news.

These two news stories were like life-affirming icing on the cake after Bella's continued box office success this past weekend.  As noted in two previous columns (Bella to Anti-War Movies: Show Me the Money! and Bella and the Pro-Life Film Trend), the small-budget, independent film is making major inroads in Hollywood.  For the second weekend in a row its per screen revenue ranked in the top five movies. And that is only with a limited release on less than 200 screens.  

Producers were hoping for a strong showing in Bella's second week, which could determine whether the movie's distributor puts the movie in wide release.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.