The Associated Press recently released a guide for news outlets for reporting on abortion that’s so biased in favor of the procedure, its guidance often runs contrary to medical science. The new guide has the ability to significantly distort how Americans perceive the abortion issue.
The AP’s “Abortion Topical Guide” is part of the widely used “AP Stylebook” that many outlets across the country, including The Daily Signal, use as a guide for everything from grammar to punctuation to best practices for terms and phrasing.
One glaring problem among many? The guide frequently cites the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to back up its guidance. ACOG claims to be the premier professional membership organization of OB-GYNs. But on the issue of abortion—a procedure that most OB-GYNs don’t perform—ACOG is wholly committed to lobbying for extreme abortion policies that don’t reflect its membership’s views.
Over and over, the AP guide cites ACOG in suggestions for writers. For instance, it tells writers to:
- Refer to “cardiac activity” instead of the “heartbeat” when referring to the, well, heartbeat, which is detectable via ultrasound from the very early stages of life.
- Not refer to unborn children as “pain-capable” until after at least 24 weeks. This will be news to doctors who perform surgeries on children in utero and use anesthesia for those under 24 weeks. It’s also contrary to the massive (and still growing) body of research demonstrating children have the capacity to feel pain at 15 weeks or even earlier.
- Avoid giving credence to the abortion pill reversal process—a process in which a woman takes a hormone called progesterone to counteract the effects of the abortion pill mifepristone. The guide claims falsely that there’s “no scientific evidence” that abortion pill reversal is safe or effective.
- Never use the term “late-term abortion.”
The guide also leaves out key facts about emergency contraception. Women take such drugs after unprotected sex or if their birth control fails. The guide says that these drugs are used to prevent pregnancy but “do not end a pregnancy.”
Perhaps the AP should read the label for Ella, one such popular drug. It notes that the drug could prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. This is a huge problem for anyone who reads the science and knows that a new life—with a unique set of DNA separate from the father and mother—begins before implantation, when sperm and egg meet at fertilization.
The guide magnanimously says “pregnant women” or “women seeking abortions” are “acceptable phrasing.” But the guide also suggests using “transgender”-friendly terms like “pregnant people,” which denies the biological reality that only women can get pregnant.
Surprisingly, the guide advises against “overly clinical language” such as “people with uteruses or birthing people.” It’s a low bar to avoid this kind of absurdity, so no bonus points to AP here for letting common sense prevail.
The guide obscures the mission and goal of pro-life “pregnancy resource centers.” Indeed, the guide claims the name itself is misleading and that such centers are fixated on preventing abortion and nothing else. To be sure, the people who serve women, babies, and families at these centers want to prevent abortions. But that’s not all they do, and the AP guide diminishes the scope of their lifesaving work.
As previously explained at The Daily Signal,
Pregnancy resource centers provide services such as pregnancy tests; counseling on available options (including parenting, adoption, and abortion); ultrasounds; testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases; classes on prenatal care and parenting; material assistance with things like diapers, baby clothes, and supplies; post-abortion support; medical referrals; assistance navigating additional assistance options; and more.
These pregnancy centers are on the front lines of helping pregnant women in need and building a culture of life across the country. The AP guide’s recommendation to simply call them “anti-abortion centers” is a blatant attempt to hide their lifesaving work.
The AP guide misses the mark throughout. Of course, that’s inevitable when the goal is not objective reporting of fact but rather promoting pro-abortion propaganda. Try as the AP might, it’s a fool’s errand to put lipstick on a pig.
Words matter. Here at The Daily Signal, we’ll keep calling a heartbeat a heartbeat, pregnancy resource centers by their name, and late-term abortions just that—because the truth compels us to do so.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal