Don’t Call Them Babies: Media Reports Claim “Two Fetuses Found Beside Road”

National   |   Tim Graham   |   Jan 5, 2015   |   11:35AM   |   Washington, DC

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “fetus” as “a human being or animal in the later stages of development before it is born.” So the Los Angeles Times (and other local media outlets) are defying the dictionary with “Two fetuses found beside road in Fallbrook.”

Offenders included the New York Daily News, Reuters (on Yahoo! News), using AP, even using AP.

Times reporter Tony Perry dropped the F-bomb for a baby repeatedly in this short item (only the sheriff’s spokesman was acknowledging birth):

Babies 1-2-15

view on site

Two fetuses were found Friday wrapped in a blanket along a road in Fallbrook, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.

The San Diego County medical examiner will determine the cause of death. The fetuses were found by a local resident, who initially thought they were dolls.

ultrasound3d16The fetuses had reached at least 20 weeks of development, said sheriff’s Lt. John Maryon.

The incident is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department homicide detail. Maryon said detectives need help in identifying the mother.

“This would be someone who was recently pregnant and is no longer pregnant and does not have their babies to show,” Maryon said.

The fetuses were found along St. Peter’s Drive near St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Parish.


1:09 a.m. Saturday: This post was updated to clarify the fetuses’ stage of development.

10:24 p.m. Friday: This post was updated to clarify the fetuses’ stage of development.

A baby isn’t viable outside the womb at 20 weeks, but many babies can survive at 24 weeks, so “at least 20 weeks” should weigh more heavily on journalists that a baby – post-birth – is a baby. Journalists here must be presuming the mother made a “choice” to remove the babies, so “fetus” it is. It’s a dehumanizing term for an innocent child, especially in this tragic setting.

(HT: Gary Hall)

PS: Times commenters nicely identified the divide between pro-life and – exploiting the baby to slam Catholicism/capitalism.

“Clearly you meant ‘babies’ not fetuses, right? BABIES!! This horrible story isn’t less horrific because you refer to them as ‘fetuses’. They were babies who likely lost their lives because so many devalue the unborn. We must begin to value life regardless of the state of development. Maybe then we will begin to understand and love each other our differences. Just call it like it is!”

“Why were the babies dumped on “St. Peter’s Drive” near a Catholic church? Is it two women making a statement: “No abortions? This is what you get” Were the parents someone within the Church who was supposed to be celibate?”

“Never heard of twins dying? They miscarry all the time. This woman went through something horrible. No healthcare obviously. Or horrible judgment toward her. They were put near a church wrapped lovingly in blankets with thought for their little souls. You obviously have no idea what it takes for women to bring children into this world. They all need accessibility to affordable healthcare without any judgement from ignorant people.” Note: Tim Graham is the director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, a media watchdog group. He was a White House correspondent for World magazine in 2001 and 2002. This originally appeared on the NewsBusters web site.