Media labeling of Torres baby

When is a baby a baby? Apparently for the media not when in the womb, even if that child is "planned and wanted" as former Clinton Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was wont of saying. Reporting on the recent birth of Susan Anne Catherine Torres, the daughter of Virginia woman Susan Torres, who suffered a stroke resulting in brain death in May, CBS Early Show correspondents used medical jargon to refer to baby Susan when she was as yet unborn:

The Early Show
3 August 2005 (Wednesday)

Julie Chen, co-host, from Los Angeles studio: "In Virginia, a remarkable delivery, as we noted, a woman who had been brain dead for nearly three months gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports."

Thalia Assuras, narrating taped video, the opening seconds of which were not heard: "...May, the day before Mother's Day, but even in death, the 26-year old gave life again Tuesday by Caesarean section, to one pound thirteen ounce namesake Susan Anne Catherine Torres, a sister for brother Peter."

Jason Torres, husband: "I just hope they see it as the last beautiful act from their mother."

Assuras: "Husband Jason Torres spoke to CBS News in June about his decision to maintain his wife on life support at the Virginia Hospital Center at Arlington, Virginia, until the fetus reached viability. The minimum of 24 weeks in the womb for survivability was surpassed in July."

CBS News isn't alone. The Associated Press and Reuters (yeah, the same guys who call terrorists "militants"), also insisted on the term fetus to describe baby Susan when she was yet unborn.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.