BuzzFeed News spreads fake news about abortion and human development

heartbeat, Georgia

In a recent article for BuzzFeed News, Pia Peterson misleads readers with blatantly false information about what abortion looks like. The title claims that “abortion images are misleading or manipulative” and that BuzzFeed’s “photos show the reality.” While it is uncertain whether this article is in response to the disturbing photos of the five babies discovered in Washington, D.C., who appear to have been aborted late in pregnancy, or to ‘heartbeat laws’ passed in various states, BuzzFeed appears to be trying to capitalize on the fact that “Most people don’t know what a fetus looks like.”

Photographer Glenna Gordon says she documents abortions across the United States and claims that one of the hardest parts of photographing abortion is that “it’s not high drama.” But that’s likely because her photos are not of the actual abortions themselves or of the bodies of the preborn human beings that have been killed in the process.

WARNING: Disturbing images below.

Misleading photos

“With all of these pictures, my goal as a photographer was always to show you something that you didn’t know,” she said. “Most people don’t know what a fetus looks like. Abortion takes place behind closed doors — for medical privacy and for safety — but I also believe something is gained by creating visuals for this process.”

Her true goal, however, seems to be to hide the full, truthful story. She admitted to BuzzFeed that “it was hard to make dynamic pictures.” She said this is because it’s hard to access abortion businesses, and likely because she may not have been allowed in the operating room when the actual abortions took place. In fact, one abortion clinic she visited in Montgomery, Alabama — Reproductive Health Services — specifically states on its website that cameras are not allowed. Yet, she was apparently allowed to snap photos of the women there.

Most of Gordon’s photos show simply images of women traveling for an abortion, waiting for an abortion, walking with a nurse, preparing for an abortion, or recovering from an abortion. None of this truthfully shows what abortion is or does.

There is one photo, however, that does purport to show an aborted embryo at six to eight weeks gestation. But what it shows is questionable at best. A live ultrasound during this time is likely to show a beating heart, because by this age, the developing human being has a brain and a heart that is pumping blood. He or she has little arms and hands and fingers. Yet BuzzFeed’s image shows none of these things in an photo that was alleged to have been from a first-trimester D&C abortion.

Screenshot: BuzzFeed News

The tagline under the picture — which, again, purports to show a human being anywhere from six to eight weeks gestation (four to six weeks after fertilization) — states, “Anti-abortion activists say this is a human, while doctors and scientists show it is cells before they have grown.” Scientists know that each new individual human life is created at the moment of fertilization. Abortions are not done to remove “cells before they have grown.” Abortions end pregnancies, which cannot exist without the presence of a newly-fertilized human being — a human being that actually signals his or her presence almost immediately after fertilization. According to the Endowment for Human Development:

As early as 24 to 48 hours after fertilization begins, pregnancy can be confirmed by detecting a hormone called “early pregnancy factor” or EPF in the mother’s blood. (The test for this hormone, however, is not widely available). This substance helps prevent the mother’s immune system from rejecting the soon-to-be-implanted embryo and allows pregnancy to proceed.


OB-GYN Dr. Christina Francis, Chairman of the Board for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told Live Action News, “According to the law of biogenesis, the only kind of offspring that two human beings can produce is another human being. And the science is clear about when that new human being comes into existence – at the moment of fertilization. This is true regardless of what we look like – it is in our DNA.” Dr. Francis continued:

Additionally, the photo in the Buzzfeed article is intentionally misleading. If the tissue shown is, in fact, from a 6-8 week old embryo, it is only a small piece of the embryo, not the entire embryo. This is entirely possible as embryonic human beings are often torn apart during the abortion process.

There are numerous sources, including the Endowment for Human Development, that show actual hysteroscopic images of embryonic and fetal human beings, even at 6-8 weeks gestation. These images show the clear humanity of preborn children, even at these early stages.

Our mission at the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) is to empower women with information, including the reality of the life that is growing inside of them. The abortion industry and its allies want to hide the truth from women so that they can manipulate them. To intentionally mislead by showing incomplete pictures or labeling a distinct human life as ‘growing cells’ is demeaning to women and their children, who deserve excellent healthcare, not lies.

In addition, the questionable photo is from an abortion facility in Montgomery, Alabama — possibly Reproductive Health Services, based on other photos, which is an affiliate of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). In a previous presentation on first-trimester abortion, NAF shared photos of first-trimester abortions to help train abortion workers. The photo Gordon and BuzzFeed shared appears to be a cropped photo of the remains of an aborted human.

A first-trimester D&C suction abortion tears the child apart and suctions tissue and body parts out of the uterus. See the images below from NAF compared to the one above from Gordon:

Image: NAF Slide products of conception abortion at nine weeks

NAF Slide products of conception abortion at nine weeks gestation (7 weeks after fertilization)

Image: NAF Slide products of conception from abortion

NAF Slide, products of conception from abortion

According to the Endowment for Human Development (EHD), by five weeks gestation (three weeks after fertilization), the development of the brain, spinal cord, and heart is well underway. By five weeks and one day, the heart is beating and is visible by ultrasound. By six weeks, the heart is pumping the embryo’s blood to his or her brain and body with all four chambers of the heart working. The baby has arms and legs as well as cerebral hemispheres in the brain by six-and-a-half weeks. He or she will turn away in response to a light touch on the face by seven-and-a-half weeks.

This is what a preborn human being actually looks like in the embryonic stage at six to eight weeks when he or she has not been suctioned to pieces:

heartbeat, abortion

Six weeks after fertilization (8 weeks gestation)


Annabelle, 8 weeks, 5 days (6 weeks, 5 days after fertilization)

False information about pro-life women

Gordon goes on to tell BuzzFeed that “Women are often complicit in white supremacy and the patriarchal agenda — it’s all just so enmeshed.” But in reality, women are more likely to be pro-life than men, according to polling data.

When it comes to “white supremacy,” an accounting of history shows that the abortion industry has long targeted women of color and their babies. During a recent debate on a Connecticut state bill about abortion, Rep. Treneé McGee (D-West Haven), a pro-life Democrat, spoke about the pro-life perspective of Black Americans.

“I want to speak to the history of this industry and why I think it’s destructive to my community,” McGee said. She noted that although Black people account for 14% of the population, Black women represent 36.2% of all reported abortions. She added, “Black women have the highest abortion ratio in the country — 474 abortions per 1,000 live births.”

Lies about pro-life sidewalk counselors

Gordon also claims that pro-life sidewalk counselors scream at women and call them murderers. Yet one image she shows of a pro-lifer is of a woman with her eyes closed, seemingly praying quietly. Another image shows a pro-life elderly woman sitting in a chair and a pro-life man walking with a sign. The caption includes a quote from a pro-lifer who states simply, “You don’t have to do this, Mom.”

She also calls pro-lifers “incredibly aggressive,” but offers no proof of this — all while violence against pro-life sidewalk counselors is on the rise. Sometimes sidewalk counselors are portrayed as “yelling” at women — but in reality, it is often difficult for pro-lifers to make their voices heard from a busy or heavily trafficked sidewalk all the way into an abortion facility’s parking lot or property (where they cannot legally enter) so that women can hear the help and support they wish to offer.

Countless women and couples credit these sidewalk counselors with saving their babies’ lives and are grateful for their presence outside abortion facilities.

Lies about pro-life pregnancy centers

Gordon also makes the claim that pro-life pregnancy centers are nothing but “fake abortion clinics,” admitting that these centers talk to women, show them an ultrasound of their child, and discuss fetal development — which they do for free. Yet somehow, she portrays this as a bad thing. “It’s incredibly manipulative and preys on women who are scared, confused, or maybe just accidentally went into Door B instead of Door A,” she claims.

But pregnancy centers have nothing to gain from talking to women, other than saving a life and helping a family — they receive no monetary gain regardless of a mother’s decision for either life or death. Their services — including baby gear, clothing, resources to access health care, housing, and child care — are all free. It is abortion facilities that financially profit hundreds of dollars from each woman who has an abortion. If a woman chooses life, the abortion facility makes no money. (Who is more likely to manipulate and prey on women, and to what end?)

It’s obvious that BuzzFeed is pandering to the abortion industry in this article. The truth about human development can easily be found by searching embryology websites, and the truth about pregnancy centers can be obtained from women who have been helped by them. But BuzzFeed chose to abuse the trust its readers placed in it, in order to further the pro-abortion agenda.

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