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'Babies Are Not Babies...': News Media Shows Bias in the Words They Use About Abortion


WASHINGTON – Pro-life advocates have often complained the mainstream news media are never or rarely are on their side. Those news folks insist they're neutral. But their latest style guides and coverage don't appear to back up that contention.

Those who oppose abortion bemoan the killing of more than 60 million unborn babies since the US Supreme Court legalized the medical practice nationwide.    

'Babies Are Not Babies Until They Are Born'

But media types like National Public Radio are telling their reporters not to even call them babies anymore.  AS NPR put it, "Babies are not babies until they are born. They're fetuses."


Appearing on CBN News' Faith Nation, Daily Signal commentator Jarrett Stepman from the Heritage Foundation quoted a recent New York Times opinion headline.

"'Abortion Saves Lives and Pregnancy Kills,' which of course sounds I think too many to be very much Orwellian. But I think for many in the New York Times audience, that makes sense. Especially with how this issue is covered by the mainstream media, by the press in this country," Stepman stated.

He and many in the pro-life movement find evidence the press favors the pro-choice side in the way reporters and commentators talk about the issue.

Disappearing Terms Like 'Pro-Life' & 'Fetal Heartbeat'

"Certainly the terminology is an important factor in this," Stepman told CBN News. "NPR – National Public Radio – which of course gets public funding, recently had a set of guidelines that said to reporters don't use terms like 'pro-life.' Don't use terms like 'partial birth' or 'fetal heartbeat' or things like this."  For example, NPR has used the term 'cardiac activity' instead of 'heartbeat'.

NPR said in a statement to CBN News: "We acknowledge that discussing divisive topics with both sensitivity and accuracy can be challenging. We're constantly evaluating best practices and the language may evolve."

In a debate where the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" have become taboo, some in the media approve of using "anti-abortion rights," but not "pro-abortion rights."  And few ever cover the actual brutal facts of what happens during the procedure.

'We Need to Face the Gruesomeness of It'

That's led Christian radio host Eric Metaxas to say, "The people of America need to think about what happens during an abortion. We need to discuss it.  It is gruesome. We need to face the gruesomeness of it."

There's also what gets covered and what doesn't, like the annual National March for Life, which over the decades has become history's biggest ongoing demonstration.

"It's attracted millions of people who have come out in support of this movement, and it gets almost no coverage at all from the press – this fairly large movement – where we see so many smaller movements get enormous coverage from the press," Stepman commented.

Consumers of the mainstream national media certainly don't see those journalists dealing with the recent rash of physical or verbal assaults pro-life activists have faced outside abortion clinics or on college campuses.

Violent Videos You Won't See in the Mainstream Media

Such journalists often imply that pro-life sidewalk counselors are obnoxious, loud harassers of women and girls going in or out of abortion clinics. But at the same time, they ignore actual acts of violence like this one highlighted by CBN News:

85-Year-Old Pro-Life Advocate Violently Attacked Outside Planned Parenthood Clinic 

Or this one covered by the Human Defense Initiative: IDENTIFIED: We Expose The Man Who Roundhouse Kicked A Pro-Life Leader

"Whether that is a conscious or unconscious bias, I think that the bias is certainly there," Stepman stated.

And he believes that's because many newsrooms just don't have anyone representing the pro-life cause in them.

He said those newsrooms, "…lack that kind of pro-life perspective that really represents a large number of Americans around this country. One could even say a majority of Americans around this country."

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