A Pennsylvania newspaper’s reference to a star football player being “spared from abortion” offended a prominent college football writer this week.
The Patriot-News, a Harrisburg-area newspaper, profiled Penn State All-American linebacker Micah Parsons on Tuesday, where it was revealed his mother Sherese nearly had an abortion while pregnant with him.The PennLive.com story’s subhead reads, “Spared from abortion, Micah Parsons about to become 1st-round NFL draft pick.”
Nicole Auerbach, an award-winning college football writer for The Athletic, was bothered by the outlet’s phrasing, which noted Parsons wouldn’t be heading to the NFL if Sherese terminated the pregnancy.
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“I cannot believe a legitimate news outlet ran ‘spared from abortion’ in a subhead about someone. @PennLive published this Tuesday AM and it’s still up,” she wrote.
Parsons’ mother elected to have her baby after a phone call with a nun, and Parsons has gone on to become one of the country’s biggest football stars. He sat out the 2020 football season over coronavirus concerns and is projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The writer’s annoyance drew criticism from conservative figures and outlets.
“It’s very disturbing when we come to terms with the reality that abortion ends a human life,” Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway responded.
“Well, for one thing, it’s true,” The Dispatch’s Andrew Egger tweeted.
Sports website OutKick mocked Auerbach as a “woke all-star” for complaining about the phrase.
“How dare this legitimate news outlet run ‘Spared from abortion’ in a subhead and then put it on social media,” Joe Kinsey wrote. “The audacity! This cannot stand.”
Gabriel Hays of conservative media watchdog NewsBusters also criticized Auerbach’s reaction.
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“Perhaps for Auerbach the shock came from seeing a source so mainstream saying something so controversial, but imagine how frigid someone has to be towards being pro-life that the very idea of not having an abortion causes them do a massive double take and wonder whether the paper is being serious or not. It’s like Auerbach just saw a ghost,” he wrote.
Parsons and his family approved of the story, which delved into his upbringing, his star play on the field, and some of his troublesome behavior off of it that could affect his draft status.
However, the abortion storyline bothered readers enough that the author, Brian Linder, addressed the matter in a brief Twitter thread.
“I have asked that we examine the reasons why the packaging offended some and whether or not that could have been avoided,” he wrote.
Auerbach had some supporters of her take online.
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“As an adopted kid, I guess I was also ‘spared from abortion,’ but I can’t say that’s the line I’d lead with about where life has taken me. Interesting choice,” ESPN producer Tracy Wholf tweeted.