NY Times Inaccurately Reports on the Gosnell Trial

The New York Times has an astonishingly inaccurate report on the Kermit Gosnell trial. The inaccuracy begins right up front in the lede:

A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday threw out three of seven murder charges against a Philadelphia doctor charged with killing viable fetuses while performing abortions.

In spite of this report, Kermit Gosnell is emphatically not on trial for “killing viable fetuses while performing abortions.” Unfortunately, it’s actually legal in the United States under Roe v. Wade to kill viable fetuses during an abortion. That is not why Kermit Gosnell is on trial.

Gosnell is on trial for killing live-born babies after a botched abortion. The Grand Jury indicted Gosnell for seven counts of murder in the first degree. In the actual words of the Grand Jury report, they indicted Gosnell for the “murder of babies born alive.”

So why is this New York Times reporter beginning his report with such an inaccurate sentence? Why is he using the word “fetus” to refer to live-born babies? The American Heritage Dictionary defines fetus this way:

In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo.

Is The New York Times unaware that a “fetus” by definition is an unborn human being? I checked the AP Style Book and found no indication that the word “fetus” should be used to refer to live-born children. So why is this reporter calling an infant a fetus?

Perhaps he’s simply trying to euphemize the actual charges against Gosnell. If so, then we have to question the propriety of using inaccurate language in order to cover up the fact that Gosnell is on trial for the “murder of babies born alive.” The rest of the Times article makes clear that these so-called “fetuses” were killed after birth. So why does the Times to allow the word “fetus” to refer to a baby. Does this seem right to you?

Perhaps you can see why so many pro-lifers have found something amiss in the mainstream media coverage of the Gosnell trial. I don’t know why this reporter chose such inaccurate language. Perhaps it was a thoughtless error that can be corrected. Or maybe it is an intentional editorial decision on the part of the Times to allow language that dehumanizes babies that were targets of abortion.

I suppose someone could accuse me of splitting hairs on this. But I reject that criticism. We are talking about whether or not there will be a public acknowledgement of the humanity of live-born children. To me, that’s not splitting hairs—especially as this dehumanized language appears in the nation’s “paper of record.” The Times has an enormous influence over our national conversation about abortion. That conversation already scarcely acknowledges the humanity of the unborn. Are we now going to distort the humanity of the live-born as well?

I hope the Times will issue a correction. But even if it does, I think the bias in this piece of “straight” reporting has already been revealed.

10 Responses to NY Times Inaccurately Reports on the Gosnell Trial

  1. James Harold Thomas April 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I wondered aloud earlier (http://www.dennyburk.com/planned-parenthood-spokesperson-says-women-should-have-the-right-to-choose-whether-or-not-to-kill-live-born-infants/) what term would take the place of “fetus” for a fully born baby who survives an attempted abortion. Looks like the media is answering that by taking their cue from Pres. Obama (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/04/12/what-does-the-president-of-the-united-states-believe-about-infants-born-alive-after-a-botched-abortion/) — click the pdf’s to hear our President’s own words.

  2. Ian Shaw April 25, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    It isn’t splitting hairs Denny. Much like how scripture can be taken out of context/emphasis can be lost if proper translation or euphemisms are used, this is a clear ball drop by this newspaper. All we can do is share Christ with others as we are commisioned to and pray for their hearts to change.

    We are left to look what is going on in this country and truly see how lost it is when people live by their own thought up morals. Nietsche’s Madness comes to mind. Great Living Sacrifice song by the way.

  3. Ian Shaw April 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #


    I just caught word that the judge reinstated one of the charges that he dropped yesterday. Is this true?

  4. Sheila Carrigan April 26, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Words and language are important. Unfortunately the left in America KNOWS this and use it to their advantage. By intentionally misusing the word fetus here they are doing their level best to protect the Dr and the abortion industry as a whole. They do so to minimize the horror we feel when reading the stories. To lie to us by omission.

    I have another question I would LOVE to ask the judge in the case. If this was not a case of a child (children) born alive, then why did they ALSO drop the charges of mutilation of a corpse. Seems if the baby was dead then the mutilation charges should stand, while if the baby was alive the murder charge should stand. They are having their cake and eating it too so to speak.

    Keep speaking truth Denny!! You are 100% right and we need people willing to stand for us and our unborn children!!


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