by Brent Baker
February 20, 2007
LifeNews.com Note: Brent Baker is the vice president for research and publications at the Media Research Center.
ABC’s World News led Tuesday night with an unusual spin, one favorable to conservatives: the survival of a baby born in Florida last October just 21 weeks and six days after conception, the least time ever spent in the womb by an infant who has survived.
Anchor Charles Gibson teased: “A tiny miracle that raises big questions in the debate over abortion."
Setting up his top story, Gibson acknowledged the impact on the abortion debate: “The fact that she has survived and grown to more than four pounds, and is about to go home, is a miracle, yes, but a miracle that may have an effect on the debate over abortion. And it may change what people think about life.”
Reporter Dan Harris soon outlined how “anti-abortion activists” are using her: "For her parents, Amillia’s story is a personal and emotional one. But for anti-abortion activists, Amillia is a national poster child. Today they promised to hold her up as an example in future debates over restricting abortion.”
Leading into a soundbite from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Harris noted that “only one state, North Carolina, explicitly prohibits aborting a fetus as the point at which Amillia was born.” Harris, however, countered Perkins by stressing how “bio-ethicists we spoke with today argue that Amillia is a miracle baby, and that it’s unwise to change public policy based on miracles." (Transcript follows)
Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News didn’t mention the case and the CBS Evening News, anchored by Russ Mitchell, aired a very short item read by Mitchell that was without any connection to the abortion debate..
The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the February 20 story on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson:
Charles Gibson, in opening teaser:
"Welcome to World News. Tonight, a baby born after just 21 weeks in the womb survives. A tiny miracle that raises big questions in the debate over abortion."
Gibson led his newscast:
"Good evening. We begin tonight with the birth of a baby — a tiny baby. Amillia Taylor was born last October after just 21 weeks and 6 days in the womb. That, we believe, is a shorter period of gestation than any other infant that has ever survived. The fact that she has survived and grown to more than four pounds, and is about to go home, is a miracle, yes, but a miracle that may have an effect on the debate over abortion. And it may change what people think about life. ABC’s Dan Harris joins me tonight. Dan?"
Dan Harris: "Charlie, good evening. Until now, the story of tiny Amillia Taylor has primarily been a medical and human interest story. But today it became a political story as well. When Amillia Taylor was born in October, she was roughly the length of a ball-point pen, her feet were smaller than a thumb, and she weighed less than 10 ounces. But she was clearly scrappy."
Dr. William Smalling, Baptist Children’s Hospital in Kendall, Florida: "She told us early on from the start that she was a fighter and she wanted to be here."
Harris: "This is Amillia now. She weighs four pounds, and, despite the fact that she’s had some respiratory and digestive problems, her doctor says Amillia’s prognosis is excellent."
Sonja Taylor, mother of premature baby: "I guess I’m still in amazement. I really am, even looking at her now. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that she would even get this far."
Harris: "For her parents, Amillia’s story is a personal and emotional one. But for anti-abortion activists, Amillia is a national poster child. Today they promised to hold her up as an example in future debates over restricting abortion. Only one state, North Carolina, explicitly prohibits aborting a fetus as the point at which Amillia was born; 12 states permit abortion at that point; 23 states leave it to a doctor to decide whether the fetus is viable; and in 14 states, there are no laws on the books that would prevent such an abortion."
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: "As we see, with the advancement of medical technology, we have children surviving outside the womb younger and younger. And it really brings into focus how valuable and how precious this human life really is."
Harris: "Bio-ethicists we spoke with today argue that Amillia is a miracle baby, and that it’s unwise to change public policy based on miracles."
Professor Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania: "We don’t have new treatments. There isn’t anything to be done differently to try and save 21-week-old premature infants. And so, I think it would be wrong to just say, because this one made it, we ought to treat everyone when we don’t have any new treatments."
Harris: "Amillia was scheduled to be released today from Baptist Children’s Hospital in Florida. But her doctors decided to hold her for a few more days as a precaution, they say. And once she does go home, she will, Charlie, still be followed very closely by her doctors."