Chron misses badly on latest abortion editorial

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The pro-abortion Chronicle editorial board took up its pet topic on Friday, with an editorial slam directed against State Senate candidate and KSEV-700 talker Dan Patrick, who has recently touted a “trigger law” that would restrict abortion in Texas in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Dan Patrick

Given the Chronicle‘s long interest in this issue, it was surprising to find two glaring errors in the editorial:

“Upon reversal of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, abortions would immediately be banned,” [Dan Patrick] wrote in a recent press release about his plan. Perhaps because he hasn’t actually been elected, he didn’t offer much detail. But he praised a similar trigger law in South Dakota — one that requires every female to carry a pregnancy to term, even if she is a child, a rape survivor or an incest victim.

Errors #1 and #2: The South Dakota law to which the Editorial LiveJournalists are referring in this instance is not a trigger law. It does not take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Rather, it is a ban designed in defiance of Roe v. Wade, with the anticipation that the Supreme Court will use the law to reconsider (and overturn) Roe. In 2005, South Dakota also enacted a trigger law, which is what the Patrick press release (pdf) referred to. The Editorial LiveJournalists apparently got very confused with these facts.

Error #3: The South Dakota ban does not require “every female to carry a pregnancy to term.” There is a provision that exempts those who would perform an abortion to save the life of the mother. That may be a narrow exemption, but it’s still an exemption.

Finally, the Chronicle‘s contention that Patrick has offered this proposal in order to attract conservative voters so he can win his election is just bizarre. Patrick is a longtime advocate of the pro-life cause, so this proposal is consistent with principles he’s talked about for years. Furthermore, if this were politically motivated, Patrick would surely have come out with it during the primary, which was when the real race for his Senate district occurred. He is running as the Republican nominee in an overwhelmingly Republican district against token opposition, and will win handily in November. He doesn’t need to craft a pro-life proposal to cultivate conservatives to win. The better explanation is that he’s a pro-lifer who believes in the proposal, and plans to introduce it when he eventually takes his seat in Austin.

UPDATE (08-21-2006): A Patrick spokesman emails that nobody from the Chronicle editorial board contacted Patrick or the campaign to inquire about the details of the “trigger-law” proposal. We presume that would make it rather difficult to write about those details intelligibly, but then again, the Editorial LiveJournalists don’t always let facts get in the way of their story line.

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