Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tonight on 60 Minutes

The interviewer was Leslie Stahl. She was interviewing Nancy Pelosi, and the title of the piece was "Two Heartbeats Away." The point being that after the mid-term elections Nancy Pelosi will be House Majority Leader, and only two heartbeats away from being President. You see, after the Vice President, she's would be next in line to the Presidency.

Of course, this makes the massive assumption that the Democrats will win the House back. I guess in the minds of 60 Minutes, it's a done deal. The US will have the first woman in charge of the House.

And if the notion of a liberal woman from California being two heartbeats away from the Presidency didn't scare, enrage, engross the red staters in the US, then Leslie's framing of the stance on abortion most-likely did.

Framing is the manner in which an argument is presented. For instance, in the case of Abortion, some people frame it as the killing of innocent lives. In their framing, Abortion is murder. And under no circumstances should murder be tolerated. These people are called pro-life.

On the other side, it's framed as a woman's right to choose. This side advocates that abortion is a medical procedure, and thus private. It's a woman's right to choose to have this medical procedure. These people are called pro-choice.

However, in the interview, Leslie Stahl refers to Pelosi's views as pro-abortion.

Now, this may be semantics, but I can't imagine that anyone is pro-abortion. Being pro-abortion implies that you're out there advocating for abortions. That's likely not the case. People who are 'for' abortions, are actually for the right for a woman to have one. I would call myself pro-choice, but I am not pro-abortion. Women shouldn't have them unless absolutely necessary, but if they need to have them, they should have the right to them.

Using the pro-abortion frame would mean that if a Republican pro-lifer is on the show, they should be labelled anti-choice. There is no suitable argument to be made to suggest they aren't anti-choice. The problem is both the pro-abortion and anti-choice labels are the extreme ways to label the issue. They leave no room for sensible debate. They offer no place for the middle ground in what is clearly a complicated issue.

In my opinion, 60 Minutes did a disservice to the debate. And it seems these days, we have less and less debate, and more extreme framing.

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