I write letters

Hat tip to Shakesville for the title idea.

Apparently, Talk of the Nation canceled their planned guest for today, who was supposed to be Dr. Rachel Phelps, medical director of Planned Parenthood of Syracuse, NY. They supposedly canceled her because they could not get someone to come on the show and represent the position that all abortion is immoral.

Dear TOTN,

I was disappointed to hear that today’s scheduled show with Dr. Rachel Phelps was canceled. I am a member of Medical Students for Choice. I have had the opportunity to hear her speak twice. She is a wonderful speaker. She presents evidence based information and reasonable discussion of ethics when it comes to the varied, nuanced issues for both providers and patients involving abortion.

If it is indeed true that the show was canceled because you could not find a doctor to go on and say abortion is immoral, may I politely ask why?

Abortion is a legal, overwhelmingly safe, very common medical procedure, one of the most common surgical procedures in the country. The vast majority of the country supports the right for women to choose to terminate a pregnancy. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates between 30 to 40% of all women of reproductive age will have a pregnancy termination in their lifetime. Unfortunately, very few of these women will talk about it to anyone other than their immediate support circle, due to the stigma. Part of that stigma is due to many media outlets not thinking that a story about abortion is complete without having someone pointing out that some people think that it is immoral.

Many NPR shows, including TOTN, are successful at providing nuanced discussion of controversial issues without resorting to having one guest that calls the other guest immoral, one who completely disagrees with their legal ability to even do what they do. For example, TOTN had a show on global warming just last week. I don’t think there were any global warming deniers on the panel. The show provides three avenues (blog, phone, email) for people to discuss or disagree with the guest. I saw global warming deniers in the comments. They got to air their views.

When you have on military experts or spokespeople, do you have a token pacifist on the panel saying war is wrong, or even someone who represents the 60%+ of us who think we shouldn’t be in Iraq? Just to remind everybody that some people think it’s immoral? Of course not. First of all, it would be insulting to your guest. Second of all, your guest should be able to provide an educated discussion of the topic of the show without being so unbalanced that you have to have someone on to tell them he or she is, essentially, a murderer. Which is a valid critique of the war, and of abortion, but it is a minority opinion and does not need to aired every time the topic comes up.

Of course some shows benefit from multiple guests, such as experts in an industry and experts from watch dog groups. But I hardly think it is necessary to cancel the show with Dr. Phelps because you couldn’t find someone to tell her that abortion should be criminalized.

Sincerely,
Mom TFH
Local School of Osteopathic Medicine
President, Student Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Vice-President, Medical Students for Choice
Vice-President, American Medical Women’s Association

Updated with the reply:
this program has not been cancelled but postponed to be aired at a later date yet to be determined.

Hmm, no grammar or spell check for their communications team.
Still wondering, why? Why did it need to be canceled? (Or not cancelled (sic) but postponed to be aired at a later date yet to be determined)?

4 Comments

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4 responses to “I write letters

  1. j-rap

    I’m so proud of you!!!

  2. Pup

    If only they did have token pacifists, or people representing the anti-war position. I don’t think it is an insult, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to provide a argument against their own position with any sort of conviction or depth.

    I don’t think they need people representing whacko positions (global warming deniers), but IMO that doesn’t include pro-life positions (anti-choice/anti-abortions/other, whichever label you prefer). I get the impression you’d disagree, but everyone’s different.

  3. MomTFH

    I don’t think people should be expected to convincingly play devil’s advocate with themselves, but I think playing devil’s advocate is poor discussion, anyway.

    I think intelligent, fair people can provide nuanced discussion. I have seen Dr. Phelps speak twice, and she does an excellent job of discussing reproductive medicine realistically.

    I think it would be controversial (and amazingly unlikely) that coverage of the six year war in Iraq would ever include having pacifists or people against the war to counter every military expert or government spokesperson.

    As for global warming deniers, both our current president and vice president think that there is argument as to whether it is human activity causing global warming, and the executive branch actively censored EPA reports discussing the effects of global warming.

    It’s easy to paint some opinions as “whacko”. Less than 12% of the population thinks abortion should be illegal. I think 75% think UFOs exist.

  4. Pup

    “As for global warming deniers, both our current president and vice president think that there is argument as to whether it is human activity causing global warming, and the executive branch actively censored EPA reports discussing the effects of global warming. ”

    That’s a disaster. Luckily, the dolts are on their way out.

    “It’s easy to paint some opinions as “whacko”. Less than 12% of the population thinks abortion should be illegal. I think 75% think UFOs exist.”

    Yes, popularity should not be used as a measure of whacko, not when there are so many uninformed or ill-educated people in this world. Now, science, that’s a good measure of whacko. If you think that the world is flat, or that the world was created 6000 years ago, you’re a wacko.

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