Kansas Liberty: 23 June 2009
KFL spokesperson: 'What should be explored by the media is the claim that Tiller was not complying with the law.'
NPR report on Tiller disappoints local activists
The National Public Radio news program “All Things Considered” broadcast a short feature last night on the aftermath of the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. But at least one local pro-life activist was not impressed.
"Kellogg Street in Wichita, Kan., is a changed place," NPR host Robert Siegel said at the opening of the report titled "After Tiller: What Will Happen in Wichita." Kellogg Street is where Tiller's abortion clinic is located.
The report did include interviews from pro-life and pro-choice supporters and touched on questions of what would be the fate of Tiller's Women's Health Care Services Clinic and for women in Kansas seeking abortions.
Tiller's family said the clinic will be closed indefinitely, and anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has said they would like to buy the building and use it for office space.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director for Kansans for Life, said the news segment was just one more example of the overall mediocre reporting that has been done on Tiller’s murder and on the how the abortion issue influences Kansas.
“This report did not really delve into the issue," Culp said. "It really wasn’t informative at all."
Culp said one of the most disheartening aspects of incorrect media coverage in relation to the Tiller murder has been the general lumping together of all of the pro-life groups, as if they all have identical agendas and methods of how to deal with their concerns, and the lack of reporting done on the actual abortion laws in Kansas.
“What should be explored by the media is the claim that Tiller was not complying with the law,” Culp said.
Although there may be a lack of in-depth reporting on the issue, there has definitely not been a lack of interest.
Since Tiller’s murder three weeks ago, Culp said she has been interviewed numerous times by media, ranging from the New York Times, to the British Broadcasting Corporation, to a radio station in Milan, Italy. Culp said the level of interest shown by international reporters has been especially surprising.
Culp said that though the media is interested in knowing about Tiller’s murder, they quickly move on to ask even more questions about late-term abortions, what the law is and whether it is being followed in Kansas.
Late-term abortion is illegal in most European nations.
“There has been an unprecedented showing of international interest,” Culp said. “Everyone has been so curious, it seems the more questions I answer, the more they want to know. I have never seen anything like it.”
Amy Torkelson, education director for Kansans for Life, said the NPR reporter spent more than an hour interviewing her about abortion issues in Kansas.
Torkelson said she was surprised the station decided to air a short quote from Torkelson in which she discusses Kansas’ law on late-term abortion.
“I think she picked one of the most boring things I had to say,” Torkelson told Kansas Liberty.
Overall, Torkelson said she thought the broadcast did an adequate job of showing both sides of the abortion debate, though she was troubled by the emphasis placed at the end of the report on how Wichita women would now have to travel to receive abortions.
Torkelson pointed out that the vast majority of women receiving the late-term abortions at Tiller’s abortion clinic were from out of state.
“They will just have to buy a plane ticket to New York, Colorado or California instead of to Wichita now,” she said.
According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports from 2008, out of the 192 late-term abortions that were provided in Kansas, only four of the abortions were performed on women from Kansas.
None of the 192 abortions was performed to save the life of the mother. There has not been one reported case of a late-term abortion provided in Kansas to save the life of the mother since the KDHE started collecting reports.
- Holly Smith
NPR news program “All Things Considered”