The New York Times again dehumanizes preborn babies by denying heartbeat

heartbeat, embryo, preborn

A New York Times article published last week has come under fire for using a phrase to obscure the reality of a preborn baby’s heartbeat. The Daily Wire reports that “the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart” was the awkward verbal workaround used. 

The reporting in question covered John Bel Edwards’ recent victory in Louisiana. The Times reporters use the dehumanizing language to refer to Governor Edwards’ pro-life record: “Throughout the campaign, Mr. Edwards, a rare Democrat holding statewide office in the South, shined a spotlight on his conservative bona fides, like his support for a state law barring abortion after the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart can be detected” (emphasis added). 

The reporters are referring to Governor Edwards’ signing of Louisiana’s pro-life “heartbeat bill” into law in May 2019. Under Louisiana’s heartbeat law, which sets out to prevent abortions “when a fetal heartbeat has been detected,” an abortionist must perform an ultrasound to check for the existence of a heartbeat. An abortionist’s failure to comply could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, while the woman would not face any charges.

The New York Times’ reluctance to use words that reflect standard scientific verbiage that a preborn human being has a heartbeat reflects a non-scientific, pro-abortion bias. This latest New York Times piece comes months after the newspaper referred to a fetal heartbeat as “embryonic pulsing.” And the New York Times is not alone in dehumanizing the preborn. An NPR style guide on abortion terminology is explicit in its intent to dehumanize human beings not yet born: “The term ‘unborn’ implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus. Babies are not babies until they are born. They’re fetuses. Incorrectly calling a fetus a ‘baby’ or ‘the unborn’ is part of the strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion.”

As abortion supporters know, the manipulation of language shapes debate, and it is all too easy to dehumanize the preborn when we only use language that refers to them less than human. As Live Action News has shown, a fetal heartbeat is present as early as 16-22 days after fertilization. Even abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s own month-by-month guide to prenatal development indicates that a baby’s heartbeat starts as early as week five, and by week seven “the heart has formed.”  

The Louisiana fetal heartbeat law includes exceptions for cases where the mother’s health is at risk or in the case of a fatal prenatal diagnosis — although in reality abortion is never necessary for either of these reasons.

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