The Associated Press Stylebook sets the usage and grammatical format for hundreds of news agencies, laying out style and terms in an alphabetized book several hundred pages long.
So it matters when the stylebook makes a substantive change. This week, the journalist’s bible forbade the use of the phrase “late-term abortion,” which drew swift rebuke as politically motivated.
“Do not use the term ‘late-term abortion,'” the stylebook said in a post on Twitter. “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [ACOG] defines late term as 41 weeks through 41 weeks and 6 days of gestation, and abortion does not happen in this period.”
“Instead, use the term ‘abortion later in pregnancy’ if a general term is needed, but be aware that there are varying definitions of the time period involved,” the organization added. “Be specific when possible: abortions after XX weeks when XX is known in the context of the specific story.”
Do not use the term “late-term abortion.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines late term as 41 weeks through 41 weeks and 6 days of gestation, and abortion does not happen in this period. pic.twitter.com/KjT1k9rDSS
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) December 6, 2022
The new change drew ridicule on the social media platform.
“ACOG is a pro-abortion group. As a supposedly unbiased news source you shouldn’t rely on partisan groups to determine your terminology,” Life News, a pro-life organization, wrote.
TIRED OF THE LEGACY MEDIA’S BIAS CONTROLLING THE NARRATIVE AND OBSCURING THE TRUTH? JOIN US.
“This is absurd,” it added Life News, a pro-life group. “When SCOTUS came up with three trimesters in 1973, late-term was understood to be post viability or the 3rd trimester. Now you’re redefining it to be the 6 days before term. That’s not medicine, that’s propaganda designed to gloss over late-term abortions.”
“‘Late-term abortion’ is too aggressive a way to describe stabbing a viable unborn baby in the heart with a needle containing potassium chloride & delivering its lifeless corpse,” wrote another. “The absolute ghouls populating our elite class traffic in euphemism because they have nothing else.”
But that’s the modern AP. The longtime wire service provides news to newspapers and news websites, and guess what? Most of them are liberal. So (and you can’t blame them), the AP delivers liberal news for their liberal readers. That’s just business.
But the days of the AP simply being an unbiased news site are long gone. I remember when I was covering George W. Bush in the White House, the powers that be at the AP decided it no longer had to present two opposing sides equally. Instead, top editors there agreed that they would determine what viewpoint should be stressed, and what viewpoint should be minimized.
Now, the AP simply says that they are right, and you are wrong.
Let’s settle one thing: early-term abortion, first trimester. Mid-term abortion, second trimester. Late-term abortion, third trimester. That’s language.
Some call that last procedure “partial-birth abortion.” Since the AP is using ACOG as its fundamental source, let’s turn to their counterpart, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (it’s called equal representation, a cornerstone of journalism), for a counterpoint.
“Partial-birth abortion (PBA) is the term Congress has used to describe a procedure that crosses the line from abortion to infanticide. The doctor delivers a substantial portion of the living child outside his mother’s body — the entire head in a head-first delivery or the trunk past the navel in a feet-first delivery — then kills the child by crushing his skull or removing his brain by suction,” the conference wrote.
Well, uh, gruesome.
A strong majority of Americans oppose partial-birth abortion. “A survey conducted by You.gov with the pro-life group Americans United for Life found that 66 percent of U.S. adults who identify as pro-choice opposed third-trimester abortions, and 68 percent oppose abortions the day before a baby is born,” the AP reported in 2019.
But an equally strong majority also support abortion in general.
“Today, a 61% majority of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases,” Pew Research reported in June. “Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.”
So, AP, that’s some balanced journalism. And renaming abortions that occur in late term — you know, “late-term abortion” — to “abortion later in pregnancy” is the opposite of journalism.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.