A supervising editor at National Public Radio has advised NPR staff that it is incorrect to use the word “baby” to refer to a child in the womb and warned against using terms like “partial-birth abortion” and “the unborn.”
Mark Memmott, the supervising senior editor for standards and practices at the privately and publicly funded media organization, recently posted a “guidance reminder” relating to abortion “procedures, terminology and rights.”
The guidance comes in the wake of a number of states passing what pro-life activists call “heartbeat” bills that restrict abortion once a heartbeat can be detected.
While a Missouri bill that passed last week bans abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, a similar Georgia bill bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Other states have passed less restrictive legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while Alabama passed a bill last week banning nearly all abortions except in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.
“Proponents refer to it as a ‘fetal heartbeat’ law. That is their term. It needs to be attributed to them if used and put in quotation marks if printed,” Memmott wrote. “We should not simply say the laws are about when a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is detected. As we’ve reported, heartbeat activity can be detected ‘about six weeks into a pregnancy.’ That’s at least a few weeks before an embryo is a fetus.”
Memmott reminded NPR staff about what the organization’s longstanding guidance on abortion states.
“The term ‘unborn’ implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus,” Memmott said. “Babies are not babies until they are born. They’re fetuses.”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fetus is “a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth.”
Memmott argued that calling a fetus a “baby” or “the unborn” is a “strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion.”
“Use ‘unborn’ only when referring to the title of the bill,” Memmott advised. “Or qualify the use of ‘unborn’ by saying ‘what anti-abortion groups call the ‘unborn’ victims of violence.’ The most neutral language to refer to the death of a fetus during a crime is ‘fetal homicide.’”
Memmott also reminded NPR journalists not to use the term “partial-birth abortion,” which refers to a procedure used to extract a baby from the mother’s womb during a late-term abortion.
Instead, Memmott states that NPR journalists should use the terms “intact dilation and extraction.”
“On the latter, it is necessary to point out that the term partial-birth is used by those opposed to the procedure; simply using the phrase so-called partial birth abortion is not sufficient without explaining who’s calling it that,” Memmott stressed. “Partial-birth is not a medical term and has no exact parallel in medical terminology; intact dilation and extraction is the closest description.”
Memmott also advised NPR staff not to call partial-birth abortions “rare” because “it is not known how often they are performed.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith