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Monday, February 2, 2009
CNS' Jeffrey Fails to Challenge Stanek

In a Jan. 29 interview, editor in chief fails to challenge claims made by anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek, even though some have been proven false or unsubstantiated.

Jeffrey allows Stanek to repeat her story of how she "held a premature baby" that had allegedly survived an abortion "in her arms for forty-five minutes as the child struggled for life and then died." In fact, the Illinois Department of Public Health investigated Stanek's claims but could not substantiate them.

Jeffrey and Stanek also have the following exchange:

Jeffrey: So what did you do?
Stanek: First of all, I asked the hospital privately to stop, and when it wouldn’t then asked the attorney general of Illinois to get involved, who was a pro-life Republican—no pro-abort agenda.  After an investigation, he determined that there was no law being violated.  Meanwhile, on the federal level--
Jeffrey: Let’s focus on that point for a minute.  The pro-life Republican attorney general of Illinois--
Stanek: Jim Ryan.
Jeffrey:  He researched this. They looked into this. They didn’t just like casually dismiss this.
Stanek: It took them eight months.
Jeffrey: Eight months they looked into this?
Stanek: It was not just a casual decision.
Jeffrey: So the question was: Do we have a law that we can enforce to stop this hospital  from taking a baby who may have been 22 weeks old who was delivered through an induced labor and tossing them in a soiled linen room to die.
Stanek:  Right, there was none.
Jeffrey: The law of Illinois did not protect this child.

In fact, state law did already mandate lifesaving measures for premature babies. The July 2000 letter from Ryan's office on the investigation does not claim what Stanek purportedly witnessed was legal; it claimed that it could find no evidence to substantiate it.

Later, both Jeffrey and Stanek push the point that a proposed "born alive" law in Illinois was opposed by then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama even though it "essentially identical to the federal bill" in that it declared that it did not impinge on Roe v. Wade. In fact, according to abortion-rights advocates, because federal law does not regulate abortion, being merely "idential" to the federal "born alive" law was not enough to fully ensure that a state law would not impinge on Roe; it would also have to make explicit reference to Illinois law and make clear that it would not affect access to abortion under Illinois law.

Stanek then claimed that this "was a totally new argument that had never come up before--and was bogus." That's debatable, given that, as Planned Parenthood of Illinois points out, the Illinois "born alive" law didn't pass until 2005, when it specifically addressed both federal and state law.

A good reporter would have challenged Stanek on her claims -- after all, she has a history of peddling dubious or false clames, as well as making inflammatory attacks. But Jeffrey -- because he apparently shares Stanek's views on both abortion and Obama -- lets them pass unimpeded by reality.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 AM EST

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