New York Times Chokes on "Partial Birth" Term

The bloggers at Get Religion (a nicely done conservative blog about religion and the news media) have posted an article for the Notre Dame Journal by Ken Woodward, the longtime religion reporter for Newsweek, exploring how averse the New York Times is in particular to the terminology of partial-birth abortion:

From the outset, the Times determined to avoid using “partial-birth” in its news headlines. A computer search of the newspaper’s database since June of 1995 shows how persistently this prohibition has been enforced. Only once, on a news story published in April 2004, has “partial-birth” appeared in a headline. Instead, the Times has employed whenever possible a selection of opaque substitutes. The most frequently used terms were “type of” abortion and “form of” abortion, abortion “method” or “procedure” or “technique,” or simply a generic abortion “ban” or “curb.” Here is a sample of Times headlines, chosen for their variety of usages and published between 1995 and 2004: -- House Acts To Ban Abortion Method, Making It a Crime -- President Vetoes Measure Banning Type of Abortion -- U.S. Judge in San Francisco Strikes Down Federal Law Banning Form of Abortion -- Bush Signs Ban on a Procedure for Abortions Anyone who has ever written a headline knows that a way could be found in most of these examples to use “partial-birth.” From my computer analysis, I think it is obvious that the Times regards “partial-birth” as a toxic term.
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis