Babies are not to be referred to as “babies” until after they’re born, a missive from an NPR style chief reminds writers and on-air personalities.
Amidst the freakout last week over Alabama’s passage of a pro-life bill effectively outlawing abortion, NPR Standards & Practices editor Mark Memmott issued a “guidance reminder” instructing employees that terms like “the unborn” and “baby” are not to be used because it tips the argument in pro-life proponents’ favor.
Instead, babies inside the womb are always to be referred to as “fetuses.”
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.”
Additionally, Memmott notes staff must avoid terms such as “LATE TERM ABORTION” and “abortion clinics,” which should be referred to as “medical or health clinics that perform abortions.”