• Fact-checking the media

      Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin is in trouble again, this time for saying there are doctors "giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant."

      The journalists reporting on that "gaffe" just assume - without presenting evidence - that Akin is wrong.

      "Is it Akin, or is it The Onion?" a US News writer wonders.

      A Huffington Post writer says, it is "particularly puzzling, since, by definition, an abortion cannot be performed if there is no pregnancy."

      But they're wrong, as I was surprised to find out during my consumer reporting days. As I write in my book Give Me A Break:

      I had heard some doctors were so greedy they'd perform abortions on women who weren't pregnant. In the era before home pregnancy tests the crooked doctors could take advantage of women whose periods were late. They would simply test their urine, tell them they were pregnant and pretend to give them abortions.

      To catch them, I sent two female researchers to six abortion doctors with samples of my urine for testing. Two of the six clinics told the women they were pregnant and tried to abort them. They had to jump off the tables and shout, "No! I've changed my mind!" or the doctors would have gone ahead. We got the conversations on tape and broadcast them. Both doctors closed their clinics and disappeared.

      I disagree with Akin about abortion. And I would think that, today, it is much harder for doctors to con people thanks to home pregnancy tests. But journalists should check it out first, rather than just sneering.