NPR style guide tells journalists: 'Babies are not babies until they are born' | 5/23/2019 | Staff
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NPR style guide tells journalists: 'Babies are not babies until they are born'

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Supervising - Editor - National - Public - Radio

A supervising editor at National Public Radio has advised NPR staff that it is incorrect to use the word "baby" to refer to a child in the womb and warned against using terms like “partial-birth abortion” and “the unborn.”

Mark Memmott, the supervising senior editor for standards and practices at the privately and publicly funded media organization, recently posted a “guidance reminder” relating to abortion “procedures, terminology and rights.”

Guidance - Wake - Number - States - Activists

The guidance comes in the wake of a number of states passing what pro-life activists call “heartbeat” bills that restrict abortion once a heartbeat can be detected.

While a Missouri bill that passed last week bans abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy, a similar Georgia bill bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

States - Legislation - Abortion - Weeks - Pregnancy

Other states have passed less restrictive legislation that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while Alabama passed a bill last week banning nearly all abortions except in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.

“Proponents refer to it as a ‘fetal heartbeat’ law. That is their term. It needs to be attributed to them if used and put in quotation marks if printed,” Memmott wrote. “We should not simply say the laws are about when a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is detected. As we've reported, heartbeat activity can be detected ‘about six weeks into a pregnancy.’ That's at least a few weeks before an embryo is a fetus.”

Memmott - NPR - Staff - Organization - Guidance

Memmott reminded NPR staff about what the organization’s longstanding guidance on abortion states.

“The term ‘unborn’ implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus,” Memmott said. “Babies are not babies until they are born. They're fetuses.”

Merriam-Webster - Dictionary - Fetus - Months - Conception

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a fetus is "a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth."

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