News,  Politics

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.


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