See also Robin Marty’s update on the legislation.
I arrived at Bayliss Park around 9:30 AM this Saturday. An event was being held to support a vote on HF 657 and to allow citizens to voice their frustrations regarding Senator Gronstal. This event was highly publicized by the Daily Nonpareil, the Des Moines Register and by various pro-life organizations such as Operation Rescue. I had expected quite a turnout considering the Daily Nonpareil’s coverage of late on this matter, with the multitudes of editorials from concerned citizens along with the paper’s own editorial staff issuing statements such as “…who’s interest Gronstal is looking out for? Apparently, it’s not the majority of his constituents.”
As 10:30 rolled around, the proposed start time for the event, there were maybe 10-15 people, along with a handful of men who seemed to be setting up microphones and electrical equipment and such. Some time passed and a small crowd gathered. The pre-determined speakers began their speeches; people were chanting ‘let the senate vote’ and children played throughout the park. At its largest, I counted 48 people that were in the vicinity of the rally. The speaker at the end proclaimed that 307 people had attended; either he needs his vision checked, or he was woefully misinformed. This includes the speakers and organizers, along with the many homeless people who had slept in the park or were spending their day there; there were also citizens passing through and others who came to enjoy the beautiful Saturday morning weather in the park. My point is this, after all of the recent editorials and news coverage claiming this groundswell of outrage and disgust with abortion, Senator Gronstal and with Dr. Carhart, where were the people of Council Bluffs?
Of course there are many other things that people have going on in their lives, especially this time of year that might prevent them from being able to attend, but as expressed by these concerned citizens, this is a dire matter which needs immediate action, they claim that thousands of unborn ‘babies’ will die. It should also be mentioned that a minority of the crowd were not from Council Bluffs, some not even from Iowa. I’m just trying to convey my confusion with this feigned outrage that’s being promulgated by our local news establishments. If such a large majority of Council Bluffs residents are outraged, where are they? Also, can anyone explain why they assume the majority of Council Bluffs residents are against this? It seems our journalists and media are claiming opinion and assumption as facts; this isn’t a new invention, we are all aware of the success of Fox News.
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Lastly, Tim Rohwer of the Daily Nonpareil was there covering the event. As the event ended and the crowd disbursed, I was sitting very close observing him fawning over Ms. Hanusa and the organizer of the event, hugging them and Ms. Hanusa telling him to ‘keep up the good work, we really appreciate it.’ I’ve been critical of the news coverage regarding HF 657 over the past few weeks, now I’m more than concerned. Journalists are allowed to have opinions, friends in the community and can support whatever cause they deem worthy; however, when your coverage of a news story, as an official journalist representing a newspaper, you need to forget your bias and slant and cover the story as the facts present themselves. I also question why the aforementioned newspapers chose to tout this rally as a news story. Is this commonplace for them to basically hold announcements for political or issue driven gatherings? If a pro-choice organization was holding a gathering at a public park would they have received the same coverage? Somehow I doubt this.
I hope that there is a real debate about this issue; I hope that people are exposed to the truth about later abortion and this bill being fought over in the legislature. I also hope that the coverage concerning this issue becomes more honest, and that people start to question their media and elected officials and demand that they present the true facts instead of what they’d like things to be. An honest debate requires honest participants. And I’m still waiting for this supposed outrage to show itself, with a small crowd this morning to City Council meetings full of citizens of other communities; it truly seems that I’m not sure where the people of Council Bluffs stand on this issue. Perhaps their torpor comes from the false and inaccurate misinformation campaign being waged, or perhaps it’s because they don’t support this bill. Maybe we’ll never know.