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  • Local Dallas News Reports Indisputable Evidence That Texas’ HB 2 Disproportionately Affected Latinas

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    In an analysis of Texas’ 2014 abortion statistics The Dallas Morning News found that as a result of the state’s anti-choice law HB 2, Hispanic women experienced the greatest drop in abortions of any demographic group.

    Hispanic media outlets previously warned that the law would disproportionately affect Latinas, listing “immigration status, lack of dependable transportation, inability to take time off work, and lack of child care” as some of the major barriers to family planning and health services. Other outlets also stressed the importance of reproductive rights as a path to economic mobility and empowerment for Hispanic women specifically.

    The July 18 article reported on Texas state data, which substantiated the Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling that HB 2 constituted an undue burden on women’s access to abortion. According to The Dallas Morning News, the 2014 abortion data showed an 18 percent drop in the number of abortions among Hispanic women between 2013 and 2014, which was the year the law took effect. The Dallas Morning News noted that “no other demographic came close to seeing that impact,” reporting a 7.5 percent drop for black women and a 6.7 percent drop for white women. From The Dallas Morning News’ July 18 article:

    The Texas abortion law struck down last month by the Supreme Court appears to have curtailed access to the procedure for Hispanic women far more than any other group, a Dallas Morning News analysis of state data has found.

    In 2014 — the first full year since restrictions on abortion doctors, pills and clinics forced facilities to close — women in Texas had 9,000 fewer abortions than the year before. That's a 14 percent drop in abortions statewide, a much bigger drop than seen in previous years.

    But among Texas' Hispanic women, the drop in abortions was especially steep: The number dropped 18 percent from 2013 to 2014, data shows.

    That drop of about 4,400 abortions in one year is more than three times what Hispanic women were experiencing before the law took effect, an analysis of the last five available years of data shows. Most of that decline can be traced to abortion clinic closures in the Rio Grande Valley, which is predominantly Hispanic.

    No other demographic came close to seeing that impact.

    Before clinics closed en masse, abortions among black women were falling annually at a clip of about 5 percent, according to data published by the Texas Department of State Health Services. After the law took hold, the number of black women getting the procedure dropped by 7.5 percent in one year.

    White Texas women were having about 9 percent fewer abortions each year before 2014. After the law, their abortion numbers dropped only 6.7 percent.

    "The data shows not only that the drop in the number of safe, legal abortions provided was clearly linked to the elimination of access but also, and most especially, that the elimination of clinics disproportionately impacted Latinas," said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in New York.

    "The data shows exactly why the Supreme Court struck down the provisions" of the law, she added, "because they are harmful to women and their families."

  • "Do Your Job": Editorials Implore Senate GOP To Rise Above "Obstruction" And Act On Merrick Garland

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & TYLER CHERRY

    Newspaper editorials roundly urged Senate Republicans to stop obstructing the nomination process of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The editorials chastised "obstructionist" senators for their "stupendous show of political malfeasance" and warned that the obstruction is "out of sync with the nation's best interests," among other criticisms.

  • Here Are The Big Players In The Inevitable Smear Campaign Against Judge Merrick Garland

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.

  • Ahead Of SCOTUS Hearing, TX Media Highlight Negative Impacts Of "Dangerous" Anti-Choice Law

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a "landmark case" that is challenging strict anti-choice Texas provisions, commonly known under its bill name HB 2, that medical groups say only serve to "reduce women's access to abortion." Many Texas media outlets are highlighting the negative impacts of restrictive abortion access, noting that Texas' anti-choice law is making abortions more "dangerous," "confusing," and "unattainable," specifically for rape victims, low-income women, Latina and immigrant women, and service women.

  • Newspaper Editorial Boards Overwhelmingly Urge Senate To "Do Your Job" And Vote On Obama's SCOTUS Nominee

    ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Newspaper editorial boards are overwhelmingly urging GOP Senate leadership to hold hearings and vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. A vast number of the boards have called GOP pledges to block a nomination "outrageous," "irresponsible," obstructionism rooted in "partisan self-interest" which "deeply damages the operation of the Judiciary Branch" and "represents an act of disrespect to Justice Scalia."

  • Major State Newspapers Failed To Cover The Higher Cost Burden Assumed By States That Opted Out Of Expanding Medicaid

    ››› ››› MAKENZIE MURPHY

    An October 15 Kaiser Family Foundation study highlighted the increased health care cost burden for states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet, in the three non-expansion states with the highest number of individuals who would benefit from expansion, the highest-circulating state newspapers failed to mention the increased state cost associated with the lack of expansion.

  • New Anti-Choice Video Attempts, And Fails, To Smear Texas Planned Parenthood

    ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    The Center for Medical Progress attempted to smear Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas by releasing a new undercover video that it falsely claims shows a clinic doctor discussing how she might conduct illegal abortion procedures for "harvesting intact fetal heads," and affirming a price for the specimens. But experts say the procedures she describes are legal, the footage actually reveals that the doctor specifically said she does not do fetal tissue donations at her clinic, and the undercover actors are the only ones who discuss procedure costs.

  • Austin American Statesman Editorial: Texas Is Putting "Politics Before Public Health" In Planned Parenthood "Witch Hunt"

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    The editorial board of the Austin American Statesman has called the decision by Texas "lawmakers and state officials" to investigate Planned Parenthood for Medicaid fraud part of a "witch hunt" that won't stop until the health care provider "is completely dismantled in Texas."

    An October 28 editorial by the Austin American Statesman discussed the state's plan to stop reimbursing Planned Parenthood with state Medicaid funds for treating low-income patients and its issuing of subpoenas to three clinics for detailed patient records as part of an investigation into alleged Medicaid fraud. The editorial board correctly pointed out that the state "has not yet produced any evidence to support its allegation that laws or policies were broken aside from the heavily edited videos taped in secret and released by an anti-abortion group" -- videos which have been thoroughly debunked by independent experts but are still being characterized as factual by right-wing media. The editorial added that "the timing of the investigation" suggests that the state is attempting to "validate its decision with a retroactive investigation." And it warned that "the apparent willingness of Texas leaders to put politics before public health bodes ill for them and for the state.

    Texas is gearing up for a full-fledged witch hunt.

    The target is women's health provider Planned Parenthood, and it is clear that lawmakers and state officials will not stop until the 94-year-old nonprofit is completely dismantled in Texas.

    Last week ended with Planned Parenthood being put on notice that the state intended to strip the nonprofit of its ability to receive Medicaid reimbursement for health services, alleging that Planned Parenthood had "committed and condoned numerous acts of misconduct captured on video."

    Interestingly, the state has not yet produced any evidence to support its allegation that laws or policies were broken aside from the heavily edited videos taped in secret and released by an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress. The controversial fetal tissue program that has dominated the national headlines doesn't even exist in Texas.

    [...]

    The timing of the investigation certainly gives the impression that the state is trying to validate its decision with a retroactive investigation.

    [...]

    Ultimately those who will suffer are the low-income Texas families who rely on Planned Parenthood for contraception and medical care. They deserve the same access to care and the same ability to choose their own medical providers that the rest of us have come to expect.

    When it comes to women's health care, Republican leaders seem determined to score political points at the expense of the state's public health and individual freedom of choice that extends far beyond the ability to decide whether to have an abortion.

    [...]

    We fully understand the politics of abortion. However, the apparent willingness of Texas leaders to put politics before public health bodes ill for them and for the state.

  • Dallas Morning News Editorial Writer: Correctly Identifying Transgender People Is "Confusing"

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    An editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News offered an embarrassing defense for not bothering to correctly identify transgender people, arguing that widely accepted journalistic guidelines for talking about the transgender community are "confusing" and  "misinform[s] the public."

    In a May 4 column in The Dallas Morning News, editorial writer Tod Robberson criticized The New York Times and Associated Press for recognizing "the gender preference of transgenders in news copy." According to Robberson, identifying trans people using the pronouns they prefer "distort[s] the truth" in order to embrace "the politically correct transgender language of the day": 

    The New York Times and Associated Press, among other news organizations, have decided that they will recognize the gender preference of transgenders in news copy. Which is to say, when a male who has yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery nevertheless calls himself a female and is the subject of a news story, he will be identified as a female in all references.

    [...]

    See how confusing that gets? What is the actual, at-birth gender of the person we're talking about? And what gender will the person be identified as, once reassignment surgery is completed? Who knows?

    There is a serious ethical discussion in this issue that we in journalism never really had. The orders came down from on high one day, and everyone just sort of jumped on board without questioning the implications. The first ethical issue is whether we journalists distort the truth by embracing the politically correct transgender language of the day.

    [...]

    Like it or not, the use of he/she, her/him, his/hers in print is a grammatical and journalistic necessity. We can't avoid it. But in doing so, choosing the correct word shouldn't be an option selected out of a sense of inclusion or demonstration of open mindedness about sexual identity. Our only choice must be to use the correct words to accurately and truthfully report the news.

  • 5 Years After Citizens United, Newspapers Fail To Cover Its Impact On Judicial Elections

    ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    Five years after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of campaign spending with its Citizens United decision, top newspapers in the three states with the most expensive judicial campaigns, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas, have largely failed to connect Citizens United with major changes in these races. The influx of money into state judicial elections following the decision has accelerated negative advertisements and campaign financing that may influence judges' decisions.

  • Texas Journalists Urge National Press To Take Perry Case More Seriously

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    While many national outlets are dismissing the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry as political payback, Texas journalists warn that such claims are misguided, incomplete, and the product of a "rush to judgment." 

    On August 15, news broke that Perry was being indicted for "abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant," both of which are felonies.

    The charges relate to Perry's threatened and completed veto of $7.5 million in state funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit.

    The case claims that the threat and veto were retaliation against Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat and the head of that unit, who ignored Perry's call for her to resign after she was convicted of drunk driving. At the time Lehmberg's unit was investigating corruption in a program Perry had heavily touted; if she had resigned, Perry would have appointed her replacement.

    Following the announcement, a split has emerged among press covering the story. Much of the Lone Star State media has covered it as a valid legal proceeding and part of a greater picture of misconduct, while national media are treating Perry's indictment as mere politics. 

    The New York Times editorial board speculated that it "appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution." Liberal New York magazine reporter Jonathan Chait labeled the indictment "unbelievably ridiculous." A USA Today editorial dubbed it a "flimsy indictment," while The Wall Street Journal called it "prosecutorial abuse for partisan purposes."

    But Texas journalists say many on the national level don't know the facts and context and are too quick to judge from afar.

    "The national pundits -- and some of them are very thoughtful people -- tend to focus first and most easily on the politics," said Wayne Slater, a columnist at the Dallas Morning News. "How does this particular event help or hurt that candidate in the potential horse race? Many reporters in Texas know Perry and are much more familiar with the details in this case, the fact that these are Republicans investigating this and that Perry has a history of hardball politics in forcing people out. This is a much more nuanced story than some in the Beltway understand."

    Slater adds, "Rick Perry is getting good press because he has been masterful in the way he has framed this as a matter of partisan politics. Instinctively political journalists and reporters and outlets at some distance understand that Perry is winning the politics at the moment and that his narrative of events really comports with their general sense of how things work, that politicians threaten people and coerce people."

    Forrest Wilder, who is covering the story for the Texas Observer, noted in a recent piece that the criminal complaint against Perry filed in June 2013 by Texans for Public Justice was assigned to a Republican judge who then appointed a former prosecutor in the George H.W. Bush administration as special prosecutor. In comments to Media Matters, Wilder said the charges were something "we should take seriously."

  • Study: Top Fracking States Ignore Findings That Their Drinking Water Is At Risk

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A recent national report from the Government Accountability Office found that a higher regulatory standard is needed to ensure that drinking water sources are protected from fracking wastewater practices. But the largest circulating newspapers of the states with the highest levels of fracking production -- therefore among the most vulnerable to its risks -- have ignored this study.