CNN's Avlon Dismisses Late-Term Abortions as Too Rare to Care About

bradwilmouth | November 10, 2023
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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Friday's CNN This Morning, CNN's John Avlon presented a "Reality Check" segment in which he argued that late-term abortions don't matter because they make up less than one percent of all cases, and suggested that Republicans are misleading voters by emphasizing the issue, declaring that "facts always matter" when there is "a lot of fearmongering." But CNN -- including Avlon himself -- has had a history of not holding to this standard in the past when promoting causes hyped by liberals.

Co-host Phil Mattingly set up the segment by recalling President Joe Biden attacking Republicans on abortion, and then added: "Now, his comments come after voters supported the right to abortion access at the polls yet again despite Republican lawmakers and candidates trying to flip the political issue, saying Democratic opinions on abortion are extreme."

After noting that ballot initiatives have been passed in several states to keep abortion legal, Avlon took aim at Republicans over their honesty in presenting the issue: "Republicans are reeling. Now, some want a national abortion ban, but others are trying to make Democrats sound like the real extremists."

After playing recent clips of Republicans complaining about Democrats wanting abortion to stay legal up until a baby is born, he continued: "Now, the talking points are clear, right? It's the specter of abortion on demand well into the third trimester, all at the hands of morally monstrous liberals."

Dismissing the seriousness of late-term abortion, he then added:

But it begs the question: How often do third-trimester abortions actually occur in America? And the answer is very, very rarely. Get this: In 2020, 93 percent of abortions occurred in the first trimester -- that's according to the CDC. Another six percent occurred between 14 and 20 weeks, early in the second trimester. Less than one percent were performed at 21 weeks or more, which is to say that third-trimester abortions are vanishingly rare. And almost always because of fetal abnormalities or a medical emergency that threatens the life of the mother.

Later on, after Avlon concluded his presentation, he and co-host Poppy Harlow declared that "facts matter," as if Republicans were not being factual on the issue:

POPPY HARLOW: John, thank you so much for that. Facts matter, especially on an issue like this.

AVLON: Facts always matter, especially when there's a lot of fearmongering.

The segment's suggestion that if bad things only happen a tiny percentage of the time that it is not worth public discussion or effort is a standard that CNN has a history of not observing on other issues. For example, Avlon once delivered a "Reality Check" declaring that "There's an overdue reckoning over killings of young black men by police," and focused on four cases of police-involved deaths in which cops were trying to arrest black suspects (most of them unarmed), as if such questionable occurrences only involved black victims.

In his April 15, 2021, "Reality Check," he casually noted that, in the previous 12 months, there had been 991 people shot and killed by police, but did not inform viewers that only a portion were black. In fact, in 2020, The Washington Post found that unarmed black men only made up 1.7 percent of all police-involved deaths, and only 25 percent of the total, in 2020, which is much smaller than the number of late-term abortions which number well into the thousands.

And, even though Daunte Wright had a warrant over an alleged armed robbery, and Alton Sterling was accused of drawing a gun on a man who called 911, Avlon suggested police had confronted them over trivial matters.

Similarly, only a small percentage of murders involved the use of an AR-15 or AK-47, or any rifle, but that doesn't keep the media from giving such firearms disproportionate focus.

CNN's attempt to dismiss late-term abortion was sponsored in part by Chewy. Their contact information is linked.

Transcript:

CNN This Morning

November 10, 2023

6:24 a.m. Eastern

PHIL MATTINGLY: New overnight, President Biden saying at a closed-door fundraiser that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade galvanized voters. He said, quote, "They practically dared the women of America" with the Dobbs decision, referring to the Supreme Court opinion that let states decide if abortion should be legal. He tied Donald Trump to that decision, saying the former President is the "only reason" there are abortion bans in America.

Now, his comments come after voters supported the right to abortion access at the polls yet again despite Republican lawmakers and candidates trying to flip the political issue, saying Democratic opinions on abortion are extreme. John Avlon is here with a "Reality Check" on that.

JOHN AVLON: That's right. Look, if anyone thought overturning Roe would cool abortion culture wars by kicking it to the states, they've had a rude awakening. Now, this week, Ohio voters enshrined abortion rights in their state constitution, and that's the seventh straight referendum post-Dobbs where the pro-choice side has won, including deep-red states like Kentucky, Kansas and Montana. Republicans are reeling. Now, some want a national abortion ban, but others are trying to make Democrats sound like the real extremists. Here's Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Election Day.

GOVERNOR MIKE DeWINE (R-OH): --would allow an abortion right up until the time of birth.

AVLON: Here's Senator Tim Scott on the debate stage.

SENATOR TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I would not allow states like California, Illinois or New York to have abortion up until the day of birth.

AVLON: Now, the talking points are clear, right? It's the specter of abortion on demand well into the third trimester, all at the hands of morally monstrous liberals. But it begs the question: How often do third-trimester abortions actually occur in America? And the answer is very, very rarely. Get this: In 2020, 93 percent of abortions occurred in the first trimester -- that's according to the CDC. Another six percent occurred between 14 and 20 weeks, early in the second trimester. Less than one percent were performed at 21 weeks or more, which is to say that third-trimester abortions are vanishingly rare. And almost always because of fetal abnormalities or a medical emergency that threatens the life of the mother.

And, while the number of people who support abortion rights through the first trimester is at record levels according to Gallup, it's important to note that the number of abortions have been going down in America since 1990, decades before the overturning of Roe. This is a deeply personal and difficult issue. You can believe that every abortion is a tragedy and also believe that it's a decision that should be made by a woman, her doctor, her family and her God, not the government. Most Americans don't hold extreme views on abortion, with the majority saying it should be legal in some circumstances. We're not as divided as activists would have us believe, and we'll find more common ground when we stop demonizing people we disagree with. And that's your "Reality Check."

POPPY HARLOW: John, thank you so much for that. Facts matter, especially on an issue like this.

AVLON: Facts always matter, especially when there's a lot of fearmongering.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, appreciate the "Reality Check."

MATTINGLY: Thanks, John.

(...)

CNN's New Day

April 15, 2021

7:57 a.m. Eastern

JOHN BERMAN: So the killing of Daunte Wright has reignited calls among some progressive members of Congress to defund or outright dismantle policing in America. Is that the right pathway to reform? John Avlon here with a "Reality Check." John?

JOHN AVLON: There's an overdue reckoning over killings of young black men by police, and there's majority support for significant police reform. But there are also strident slogans from politicians that don't help at all. Like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib's tweet earlier this week calling for "no more policing." Let's be clear, this is a terrible idea as a matter of politics and practicality. It's an extension of the call to defund the police which Donald Trump used as a cudgel to hit Democrats in the last election despite Joe Biden's disavowal. And many defenders essentially say that "defund the police" should be taken seriously but not literally. After the Trump presidency, I thought that we agreed that words matter. It doesn't even represent the community it seeks to serve. A Gallup poll from August of 2020 found that 80 percent of black Americans want to keep or even increase the amount of police in their neighborhoods. The real issue is what kind of policing they're receiving.

Consider the alleged minor offenses that led to high-profile killings by police in recent years -- Daunte Wright pulled over for expired plates; George Floyd for a counterfeit $20 bill; Walter Scott pulled over for a broken tail light; Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes; Alton Sterling for selling CDs. These are just a few examples. Now, according to FBI statistics, African American Americans made up 30 percent of arrests for curfew violations or loitering; 29 percent of gambling arrests in 2019 while local studies show they're also far more likely to be arrested for jaywalking. So much for former AG Bill Barr's insistence that there isn't systemic racism in police departments. And this needs to change. But gutting or cutting police departments is not going to achieve some utopia. It'll do the opposite. Instead, there needs to be significant retraining reform. Cops need to focus on de-escalating situations and decriminalizing some victimless misdemeanors could reduce causes of conflict. It helps that some 27 states have decriminalized or even legalized recreational marijuana 

considering that black Americans are arrested more than three times as much as whites for possession despite equal usage rates, Congress is at work as well. In 2020, Republican Senator Tim Scott proposed a bill to require reporting standards for use of deadly force and no-knock warrants. Democrats said it didn't go far enough, proposed a ban on chokeholds and racial profiling; a limit on military equipment transfers to the police; and eliminating qualified immunity to protect police officers from lawsuits when they violate a citizen's constitutional rights.

Good people can disagree on the details, but we need to agree on the facts -- like the fact that 991 people have been shot and killed by the police over the past year, according to The Washington Post. We also need to recognize that, despite some fear-fueled appeals, violent crime and property crime have plummeted since the 1990s. And, finally, we should not fall into the trap of demonizing all police officers who do a necessary, difficult, dangerous and often thankless job. We can support the vast majority of good cops while insisting on holding bad cops more accountable, and invest in changing the culture that has led us to this crisis of confidence in the basic promise of equal justice under the law.

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