St. James the Greater Catholic Church

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

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.)

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Surprise! An abortion story from a major newspaper that doesn't favor pro-choice side

Surprise! An abortion story from a major newspaper that doesn't favor pro-choice side

Last week, we highlighted — once again — the slanted nature of so much mainstream media reporting on abortion.

We suggested that not much has changed since the classic 1990 Los Angeles Times series -- written by the late David Shaw -- that exposed rampant news media bias against abortion opponents.

We pointed out that among Shaw's findings a quarter-century ago were these:

* The news media consistently use language and images that frame the entire abortion debate in terms that implicitly favor abortion-rights advocates.
* Abortion-rights advocates are often quoted more frequently and characterized more favorably than are abortion opponents.

Why do I bring up that recent post again now?

Because I wanted to share a positive example of how journalists who want to provide impartial coverage can do so. This story, from the front page of Tuesday's Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City, concerns a prayer vigil conducted by Catholic opponents of a planned abortion clinic.

 

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