Casual consumers might assume when reading a news report that they are receiving information from a neutral, unbiased source. Pro-Lifers have long known that this is not the case for reporting about the Pro-Life movement in the mainstream media. Further confirmation of the disturbing bias is found in the 2017 edition of the AP Stylebook, a usage guide published by the Associated Press. Fox News featured a segment on the changes and highlighted concerns from Pro-Lifers and conservatives. In the entry for “abortion,” the guide directs writers never to use the term “Pro-Life” but instead describe Pro-Lifers as “anti-abortion.”
Fox News interviewed Rachel Alexander to discuss reaction from conservative journalists. Alexander stated, “The mainstream media claims that it’s not biased, but it’s got this bias built into its own words. And we’re seeing these words increasingly scrubbed from news articles and replaced by politically correct words instead.” The reason for an author’s words being “scrubbed” is that the AP Stylebook is considered the gold standard for many editors in the United States. Alexander explained in her opinion piece on The Hill that even if a Pro-Life author submits an article that does not conform to the AP bias, editors at mainstream publications would change the words to follow the AP preference.
Life News contrasts the new AP guidelines with the style guide for BBC journalists, which is even more blatantly biased. Journalists are told not only to refer to Pro-Lifers as “anti-abortion” but also to call abortion activists “pro-choice” instead of “pro-abortion.” Although 6the AP Stylebook does not go that far in ideological semantics, the reality is that the AP changes are not much better. The AP advises journalists to refer to abortion activists as “pro-abortion rights.” Claiming that abortion is a “right” suggests that the killing of the preborn is just and cannot be questioned. This despite the fact that the United States Supreme Court only discovered the “constitutional right to abortion” a mere 44 years ago, and that decision has been questioned by jurisprudence experts ever since.
While some Pro-Lifers happily accept the label “anti-abortion,” others have noted that words matter in the fight for Life and “anti-abortion” is insufficient. For one thing, as Pro-Life writer Calvin Freiburger notes, the Pro-Life movement is not simply a movement about abortion. The Pro-Life movement is founded on the principle of the sanctity of all human Life. Recognizing the sanctity of all human Life leads to a movement that stands for all lives: the preborn, the elderly, the disabled. The Pro-Life movement is in no way tied solely to abortion. Elective abortion is simply one of the most pressing assaults on human Life in our time.
Above all, words matter because they signify reality. Abortion activists are notorious for obfuscating and hiding the ugly truth of abortion in euphemisms about “choice,” “reproductive rights,” and “justice.” Perhaps the reason why being “Pro-Life” is so offensive to abortion advocates is that the name inherently refers to the Life of the preborn child, precisely what abortion proponents want to ignore.
Although the overt bias displayed by the mainstream media may be worsening in our country, we live in a powerful age of social media. By bypassing the traditional media and sharing Pro-Life information directly through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Texas Right to Life and other Pro-Life groups can reach a larger audience with their message, untainted by the anti-Life bias of the mainstream media. Even if the mainstream media cows to the bias of abortion activists, we have lives to save.