Euphemism in the news? We debate 'abortion care' terminology in front-page report

My friend and former colleague Kenna Griffin loves to "talk nerdy" about the intricacies of journalism.

That description probably fits GetReligion's behind-the-scenes discussion over two words that appeared in a Sunday front-page story in The Oklahoman — the Oklahoma City metropolitan daily where Kenna and I both used to work.

A question from reader Brandon Dutcher sparked the dialogue by our team:

You doubtless saw The Oklahoman’s front-page story on the new abortion clinic coming to Oklahoma City. One sentence in particular jumped out at me: “Burkhart did not get involved in women's rights work to provide abortion care in underserved communities — but that's where life led.”
Am I being overly sensitive here, or is the phrase “abortion care” inappropriate for a straight news story? Why not just say “provide abortions”?
My Orwellian alarm bells are going off, but I’m curious to know if anyone else sees anything amiss here.

A little background: I wrote a recent post praising an earlier Oklahoman story on the planned facility by religion editor Carla Hinton. The Sunday story about which Brandon inquired was written by Carla, a friend with whom I worked for nine years, and Jaclyn, a health reporter of whom I am a big fan. (In other words, these are not people I am in a hurry to criticize.)

I subscribe to The Oklahoman and read the e-replica edition on my iPad most days. However, I had not read the Sunday story on the planned abortion clinic:

That day, I — like many people — was preoccupied with the tragic news out of Orlando.

After receiving Brandon's email, I read the story and found it informative, fair and balanced. I wish all stories on this subject matter were presented so evenhandedly. (For an example at the other extreme, here's a recent one.)

But back to Brandon's question: I posed it to my fellow GetReligionistas, and my colleagues gave me permission to share some of their responses.

From tmatt:

I think the comment (from Brandon) is accurate, but this is a way lower level of Kellerism than normal. Right?

(Speaking of "talk nerdy," click that link on "Kellerism" if that term is new to you.)

Julia Duin:

I would not call it Kellerism but yes it is Orwellian. Why not just “abortions?”

Jim Davis:

I also bristle at the oft-used term "abortion provider." As if they're feeding children, rather than dismembering feti.

Ira Rifkin:

They provide abortions so why not call them abortion providers?
Or ask them what they want to be called rather than trying to label them in a way that reflects the writer's bias.
Oh, and I'm pro-choice but not pro-abortion, in case anyone is unclear.
And you can quote me. Though I'm not sure a post on our internal chatter will add anything to the debate.

In response to Ira, I replied:

What will our internal chatter add to the debate? Maybe not a whole lot. But I think it is good occasionally, when a reader obviously pays attention to what we do and asks a question, to engage it. No right answer. No wrong answer. Just taking the question seriously and grappling with it. That's my thought anyway.

And now, I'd love to hear — we'd love to hear — your thoughts. Either leave a comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. 

Please remember that this website focuses on journalism and news coverage, so we're interested in comments that engage those issues. This is not the forum to debate the rightness or wrongness of the planned abortion facility.

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