The National Public Radio isn’t making it a mystery on where it falls on the abortion argument, but it’s not just promoting the idea that abortion is a positive thing, it’s instructing other journalists on what kind of language should be used in order to make abortion seem credible, and pro-life arguments look ridiculous.
NPR Editor Mark Memmott released a “guidance reminder” to journalists titled “On Abortion Procedures, Terminology & Rights,” wherein he advises what words to use over others in order to discredit the idea that a baby in the womb is a baby at all.
One example is where he refers to the term “fetal heartbeat,” which he describes as “their term,” placing himself unabashedly in the column of being against pro-lifers. He added that should anyone use the term, it always needs to be put in quotation marks, which, speaking as a writer, putting words in quotation marks casts immediate aspersions on whatever phrase falls within them.
He then goes further in depth into how journalists should write with an abortion style guide, including how to write around the idea of partial birth abortion.
“Use the term intact dilation and extraction to describe the procedure, or a procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction; opponents call it partial-birth abortion,” wrote Memmott.
Memmott goes on to explain that the phrase “late-term abortion” is not a scientific term and shouldn’t be used as it gives off the impression that the abortion is occurring in the 8th or 9th month of pregnancy when it’s actually the 5th or 6th month. Memmott noted that it carries a lot of ideological weight that presses against the pro-abortion message and that it needs to be changed up.
“Though we initially believed this term carried less ideological baggage when compared with partial-birth, it still conveys the sense that the fetus is viable when the abortion is performed,” he wrote.
“Thus “late term” is not appropriate,” he added. “As an alternative, call it a certain procedure performed after the first trimester of pregnancy and, subsequently, the procedure,” he added.
He then proceeds to give a little bit more instruction, including how to refer to abortion clinics, abortion doctors, and even to stray away from language that promotes the idea that the baby in the womb isn’t a baby:
NPR doesn’t use the term “abortion clinics.” We say instead, “medical or health clinics that perform abortions.” The point is to not to use abortion before the word clinic. The clinics perform other procedures and not just abortions.
Do not refer to murdered Dr George Tiller as an “Abortion Doctor.” Instead we should say Tiller operated a clinic where abortions are performed. We can also make reference to the fact that Tiller was a doctor who performed late abortions.
Here’s some additional guidance from Joe Neel, regarding the Unborn Victims of Violence Act:
The term “unborn” implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus. Babies are not babies until they are born. They’re fetuses. Incorrectly calling a fetus a “baby” or “the unborn” is part of the strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion. Use “unborn” only when referring to the title of the bill (and after President Bush signs it, the Unborn Victims of Violence Law). 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.”
What Memmott doesn’t understand is that by even issuing this style guide, he’s essentially reinforcing the pro-life argument. If you have to manipulate your language to make something sound less awful than it actually is, then the reality is that what you’re promoting is horrible and generally unpalatable to the average reader.
Changing up the language doesn’t make accurate descriptions of what’s happening any less accurate, and in the age of the internet, it’s going to be very hard to program a populace to use your verbiage with repeated phrasing. The mainstream media isn’t the only player on the field anymore. This is no longer a monologue. People aren’t going to define the conversation with convoluted verbiage, especially when writing “late-term abortion” is much easier than “certain procedure performed after the first trimester of pregnancy.”
Not only is it vague, it’s a pain to write as a text message.
That’s all not even addressing the fact that everything Memmott is offering is, while not necessarily untrue, is also blatantly misleading. For instance, Tiller is an abortion doctor. He performs late-term abortions. He classifies. Just because he can also accurately gauge whether or not you have an ear infection doesn’t mean I need to suddenly stop noticing the elephant in his respective room.
If I go to a waterpark and find out they also have bumper cars and sell hot dogs, I’m not going to suddenly refer to it as a “park that also has water rides in it.”
As far as the term “unborn” goes, what exactly does Memmott think is in a woman’s womb? An airplane? Ask any mother what she’s currently growing in her womb and she’ll answer almost every time with “my baby.” That’s because it’s a baby. Passing through the vaginal canal does not magically convey personhood. It is a baby that has not been born yet.
The most accurate way to describe Memmott’s article is “post-newspeak abortion.”