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JerryBaumchen

Abortion Commentary

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Hi folks,

The following ( a rather long read, so you are warned ) appears today in the local newspaper & their on-line version of it.  I consider it rather thoughtful.  Possibly you will also.

Jerry Baumchen

By Therese Bottomly | The Oregonian/OregonLive

 After the historic leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion earlier this month, the issue of abortion rights leaped back into the news headlines.

 The court’s possible decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that said there was a constitutional right to abortion, means readers will be seeing a lot of coverage of the issue in coming weeks.

That provides a prime opportunity to review our journalistic style guidelines for when The Oregonian/OregonLive’s reporters are writing news articles about abortion and abortion rights.

 Most news organizations follow writing guidelines for clarity and conformity. The Associated Press provides news articles to thousands of news organizations, and many follow its dictates on grammar, usage, punctuation and other points of style.

Many newsrooms, like The Oregonian/OregonLive, have their own style guides, adapted to reflect local norms. For example, we tend to refer to Interstate 84, rather than the Banfield Freeway. Oregonians say “the beach” or “the coast,” while elsewhere in the country it might be “the shore.”

Style decisions help readers by providing clarity and consistency and the right language choices make writing sound familiar and authentic to local readers.

But style guidelines are also important because language choices convey powerful messages.

Special interests of all sorts adopt language that helps make their case, softens harsh facts and – sometimes – cloaks the truth. Think of how businesses, perhaps even this one, inform you of rate changes: it’s not an increase, it’s an adjustment!

I suppose it is the written equivalent of the television commercial listing all the nasty side effects of a medication while the screen shows smiling faces and jaunty music plays in the background.

In the abortion context, The Oregonian/OregonLive largely follows AP style on word choice, with the primary goal being accuracy. The Associated Press Stylebook entry on abortion reads as follows:

Use the modifiers anti-abortion or abortion-rights; don’t use pro-life, pro-choice or pro-abortion unless they are in quotes or proper names.

 So, to be clear, if we are quoting someone who uses the phrase “pro-choice” we would report their quote verbatim, but we would not use that label ourselves. Similarly, if “pro-life” is part of a group’s name, we report that, but we would not independently describe an anti-abortion group as “pro-life.”

Some readers may disagree with these decisions, but once language has been co-opted by advocates on whatever side, it becomes politicized.

For instance, think about the difference between “unborn child” and “fetus.” Fetus is the medically accurate term at a certain stage of pregnancy, but people who are anti-abortion tend to use “unborn child.”

The AP Stylebook’s guidance on these terms reads as follows:

Anti-abortion advocates say “fetus” devalues a human life; abortion-rights supporters argue “unborn child” or “baby” equate termination of a pregnancy with murder by emphasizing the fetus’s humanity.

Write clearly and sensitively, using any of the terms when appropriate:

Fetus, which refers to the stage in human development from the eighth week of pregnancy to birth, is preferred in many cases, including almost all scientific and medical uses…

In scientific uses referring to the first seven weeks of human development after conception, use embryo.

 The context or tone of a story can allow for unborn baby or child in cases where fetus could seem clinical or cold…

 The abortion divide often is characterized as binary, when polling shows much more nuanced – and even contradictory – views among the American public. This is an area where journalists could do a better job in reflecting all of the shades of gray.

For instance, a 2022 Pew Research Center survey found continued strong overall support for abortion rights: “More Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances (61%) than illegal in all or most circumstances (37%).”

 But here are additional survey findings, quoted directly:

--Nearly half of U.S. adults (48%) say there are circumstances in which abortion is morally wrong but should nevertheless be legal.

--Most people (72%) say that “the decision about whether to have an abortion should belong solely to the pregnant woman” describes their views at least somewhat well, and more than half (56%) say the same about the statement “human life begins at conception, so a fetus is a person with rights.”

--And about a third of Americans who generally support legal abortion (33%) say the statement “human life begins at conception, so a fetus is a person with rights” describes their own view at least “somewhat” well.

In times of high emotions and a politically charged atmosphere, when writing news articles journalists should lead the way in providing clear-eyed facts, solid data, and historical context. All of these contribute to accurate reporting of even the most divisive issues.

 

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I think the best argument in the abortion discussion is asking the question, "Does anyone have bodily autonomy over another human being?" Or said another way, if I need a kidney to survive and you have a matching kidney, can I force the state to make you give me your kidney so I don't die?

And to stop the inevitable strawman about taking the kidney from the person where a fetus doesn't "take" anything - I'll give you back your kidney if one is later found from a cadaver.

If the answer is "No you can't take my kidney", then the discussion is over. You have conceded that it is not about the life of the fetus. You don't care about life. Then please explain your objection. And please, PLEASE, tell me it is because of your christian religion so I can quote you the verses where God approves and dictates the cases for abortion.

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The title of this thread is misleading. I t isn't a commentary about abortion, but about the terminology that news conglomerate chooses to include in its style guide (and subsequent reporting), and why.  I wonder whether they are trying to preempt criticism from readers from all sides of the issue, or are answering criticism already received.  As an outside reader, I find the piece on its own lacking thesis.

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3 minutes ago, TriGirl said:

The title of this thread is misleading. I t isn't a commentary about abortion, but about the terminology that news conglomerate chooses to include in its style guide (and subsequent reporting), and why.  I wonder whether they are trying to preempt criticism from readers from all sides of the issue, or are answering criticism already received.  As an outside reader, I find the piece on its own lacking thesis.

Hi Tri,

Re:   It isn't a commentary about abortion, but about the terminology that news conglomerate chooses to include in its style guide (and subsequent reporting), and why. 

IMO it is only this.  Ms. Bottomly often writes as to why they use certain terminology in their newspaper.

Re:   I find the piece on its own lacking thesis.

It is only lacking if you expected more.

Jerry Baumchen

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(edited)
2 minutes ago, JerryBaumchen said:

Hi Tri,

IMO it is only this.  Ms. Bottomly often writes as to why they use certain terminology in their newspaper.

Jerry Baumchen

Thanks, Jerrry,

You just gave me the context, which provides the thesis.  I still don't think it's a commentary on abortion, but on their reasons for their style guide.  Again, that's fine. 

You have explained that it is something this organizations does regularly.  I personally like that, and have not seen it before.  It's a great way to educate the readership on journalism practices (we definitely need more of that!).

T

Edited by TriGirl
accidentally posted before I finished the post

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3 hours ago, CygnusX-1 said:

I think the best argument in the abortion discussion is asking the question, "Does anyone have bodily autonomy over another human being?" Or said another way, if I need a kidney to survive and you have a matching kidney, can I force the state to make you give me your kidney so I don't die?

And to stop the inevitable strawman about taking the kidney from the person where a fetus doesn't "take" anything - I'll give you back your kidney if one is later found from a cadaver.

If the answer is "No you can't take my kidney", then the discussion is over. You have conceded that it is not about the life of the fetus. You don't care about life. Then please explain your objection. And please, PLEASE, tell me it is because of your christian religion so I can quote you the verses where God approves and dictates the cases for abortion.

The "bodily autonomy" discussion is a good one.

However, a more important one is 'privacy'.

The underlying rationale behind Roe V Wade was the fairly simple idea that a medical procedure should be a private matter between the patient and the doctor.

As a SC decision and precedent, it was used for a LOT  of things. HIPAA is one of the easiest to spot. 

If Roe v Wade goes away, there could easily be a challenge that destroys HIPAA.

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19 hours ago, wolfriverjoe said:

The "bodily autonomy" discussion is a good one.

However, a more important one is 'privacy'.

The underlying rationale behind Roe V Wade was the fairly simple idea that a medical procedure should be a private matter between the patient and the doctor.

As a SC decision and precedent, it was used for a LOT  of things. HIPAA is one of the easiest to spot. 

If Roe v Wade goes away, there could easily be a challenge that destroys HIPAA.

Yeah, that's also very scary.  

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7 minutes ago, riggerrob said:

What is HIPAA?

In a nutshell it's your right to keep your health information private, sort of. But in a world where privacy is no longer a constitutional right that can change. On the bright side maybe we'll get Trumps grades now.

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28 minutes ago, JoeWeber said:

In a nutshell it's your right to keep your health information private, sort of. But in a world where privacy is no longer a constitutional right that can change. On the bright side maybe we'll get Trumps grades now.

Hi Joe,

1738492745_Thumbsup-1.jpg.e648171a12000d1dc42470533dc15850.jpg

Jerry Baumchen

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1 hour ago, riggerrob said:

What is HIPAA?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996).

From the CDC website, it is 

Quote

 a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge.

 

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31 minutes ago, TriGirl said:

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996).

From the CDC website, it is 

 

I did not know exactly where the term HIPPA or it's meaning came from. I do know that in Canadian healthcare the term gets used all the time. And now I know that it has absolutely nothing to do with Canadian law. We have something similar just the same.

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I think this is an issue where i hate both radical sides.

Lets not pretend a baby is a pimple being removed and lets not pretend forcing someone to carry a baby is not enslavement.

That's really the core Killing a baby Vs Enslaving women. Can we even say woman any more is that a thing to libtards? That's a whole other story.

So to me the state can not have authority over someone's body. Mothers Choice period. 

Where the libs fall apart is they seem to think the state should have authority when its Vaccine's. Hypocrites

Where the right falls apart is they should be the first to stand for individuals rights over the state...they don't here, Hypocrites

 

 

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, Darius11 said:

Where the libs fall apart is they seem to think the state should have authority when its Vaccine's. Hypocrites

I don't think anyone should be forced to get a vaccine.  MOST (not all) people on the left agree there.

I do think that if you don't get vaccinated, or you don't want to wear a mask, there are things you won't be able to do.  Go into a NICU or a hospital room, for example.  

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51 minutes ago, Darius11 said:

I think this is an issue where i hate both radical sides.

Lets not pretend a baby is a pimple being removed and lets not pretend forcing someone to carry a baby is not enslavement.

That's really the core Killing a baby Vs Enslaving women. Can we even say woman any more is that a thing to libtards? That's a whole other story.

So to me the state can not have authority over someone's body. Mothers Choice period. 

Where the libs fall apart is they seem to think the state should have authority when its Vaccine's. Hypocrites

Where the right falls apart is they should be the first to stand for individuals rights over the state...they don't here, Hypocrites

 

 

 

 

 

Let's also not pretend a pimple, or any other assemblage of inanimate cells, is a baby.

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2 hours ago, Darius11 said:

I think this is an issue where i hate both radical sides.

Lets not pretend a baby is a pimple being removed and lets not pretend forcing someone to carry a baby is not enslavement.

That's really the core Killing a baby Vs Enslaving women. Can we even say woman any more is that a thing to libtards? That's a whole other story.

So to me the state can not have authority over someone's body. Mothers Choice period. 

Where the libs fall apart is they seem to think the state should have authority when its Vaccine's. Hypocrites

Where the right falls apart is they should be the first to stand for individuals rights over the state...they don't here, Hypocrites

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Darius,

Re:  Lets not pretend a baby 

It is a fetus not a baby.  On this, I think you & I will never agree.

Re:  the state should have authority when its Vaccine's

I know of no state that mandated vaccines.

Jerry Baumchen

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7 hours ago, JerryBaumchen said:

Hi Darius,

Re:  Lets not pretend a baby 

It is a fetus not a baby.  On this, I think you & I will never agree.

Re:  the state should have authority when its Vaccine's

I know of no state that mandated vaccines.

Jerry Baumchen

Hi Jerry,

An embryo can be frozen for a very long time, then used to create a living baby.

The current record is 27 years, with the baby being born in Oct 2020.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55164607

Can't do that with a baby.

OTOH, as far as vaccines go, a pregnant woman won't make other women around her pregnant.

I'm not sure if I agree with vax mandates or not (none exist at the moment).

AM in favor of not allowing unvaxxed people in certain places, to do certain activities and putting them at the 'back of the line' for medical care.

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11 minutes ago, wolfriverjoe said:

Hi Jerry,

An embryo can be frozen for a very long time, then used to create a living baby.

The current record is 27 years, with the baby being born in Oct 2020.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55164607

Can't do that with a baby.

OTOH, as far as vaccines go, a pregnant woman won't make other women around her pregnant.

I'm not sure if I agree with vax mandates or not (none exist at the moment).

AM in favor of not allowing unvaxxed people in certain places, to do certain activities and putting them at the 'back of the line' for medical care.

Hi Joe,

Re:  I'm not sure if I agree with vax mandates or not

I am firmly in the NOT category.  That is the first step down a slippery slope that I want nothing to do with.  I want ANY situation/discussion/treatment to be between my doctor & I.

Re:  I AM in favor of not allowing unvaxxed people in certain places, to do certain activities and putting them at the 'back of the line' for medical care.

I agree totally. 

I also feel that if a person is not on an organ donor list, they should not receive an organ donation.

Jerry Baumchen

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1 hour ago, ryoder said:

Hi Robert,

Those 'mandates' are not absolute.  Here in Oregon there are some exceptions for children having to be vax'd to go to school; religion for one, comes to mind.  Or, one can merely do home-schooling to get around them.

Jerry Baumchen

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