ABC's World News with Charles Gibson premiered a new series called “Tests in Faith” on the Feb. 5, 2007 broadcast, and reporter Dan Harris did an excellent job handling a controversial subject: abortion and rape.
According to anchor Charles Gibson the new series is designed “to take a closer look at Americans whose most deeply-held beliefs are tested by extraordinary circumstance.”
In the first segment of Tests in Faith, Harris introduces us to a woman who knew she was adopted from an early age. When she finally met her birth mother she learned that she was conceived during an act of rape.
Harris, to his credit, allows the women to tell their faith stories. He questions the mother about whether she considered an abortion.
Harris: “Did you wrestle with it? Did you have a moment when you thought, maybe I should …”
Mother: “I did. I was considering it. And I was so pushed over the line by my faith; I thought I can't do it. If God's real, He's got to help me out with this … I'm going to give birth to this baby.”
Harris asked the daughter: “When you found out you had been conceived in the process of rape, did that test your faith at all?”
Daughter: “I believe there is divine purpose and plan for everyone. And now, it was time to say, do you think that's a nice saying? Or do you really believe it?”
The report goes on to detail the work both women do in speaking publicly about pro-life issues, particularly in advocating that rape and incest not be exceptions when lawmakers craft anti-abortion laws.
Harris takes the liberal stance on this topic:
“Even among those who think abortion should be illegal, 62 percent say there should be an exception in such cases. You don't think there should been an exception for women who are raped?”
The daughter replies: “No. Because I'm the exception. And I think my life has value. It wasn't my fault. And I shouldn't be punished.
Harris (to the mother): “To say that all women who have been raped, even by their father, that you cannot have an abortion, doesn't that seem a little extreme?”
Mother: “The pro-life issues are not a religious matter. They're a matter of human rights. And there's more than one human being to be considered.”
Harris: “Even if the mother had been violated in order to create that pregnancy?”
Mother: “Yes. Because of the beautiful people I've seen who are the result of those bad experiences, who are wonderful, good people.”
Harris ends the piece in a respectful way: “A controversial argument, amplified by a compelling personal story. Julie is now a mother and a grandmother. Three generations, she says, that would not exist had her birth mother made a different choice.”
ABC is to be applauded for its approach to this story. After the Nightline debacle regarding blasphemy last week, ABC's courteous treatment of this story was refreshing. Hopefully further segments of “Tests in Faith” will prove to be as well done.
Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute, www.cultureandmediainstitute.org.