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Liberal Media Deviously Uses Different Names for Different Things

November 23rd, 2005 · 3 Comments

Over at The Corner, John J. Miller says about this story:

One of the most interesting things about the abortion pill story is that it actually uses the term “abortion pill” — as opposed to “emergency contraception” or somesuch. I haven’t done a careful analysis of this, but I suspect that the media often doesn’t use this terminology, which of course is both accurate and concise.

It is accurate and concise in reference to RU-486, the drug discussed in that story, because RU-486 is, in fact. an abortion pill—and I very much doubt you’ll find people referring to it as “emergency contraception.” The term is not at all accurate with respect to actual “emergency contraception,” which is a different sort of drug, because emergency contraception does not cause abortion. It may in some cases prevent a fertilized ova from implanting in the uterine wall, but there’s no pregnancy until implantation. If some folk want to use the term “abortion” to refer to that, or to masturbation, or to anything else outside the ambit of the actual medical definition, well, that’s their prerogative, but it seems a bit churlish to get irked that reporters (and the rest of us) don’t share their idiosyncracies on this point. More to the point, if you’re going to take a shot at “biased” media use of terminology, it seems like a good idea to have some grasp of the terminology yourself. And if you’re going to opine about contraceptive or abortifacient medication, it similarly seems like a good idea to… well, have some vague notion of what you’re talking about.

Tags: Science



3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kevin B. O'Reilly // Nov 23, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Yeah, apparently to Miller bothering to Google “emergency contraception” counts as “careful analysis,” which he admits to forgoing. Anyway, in my reporting on Plan B I’ve written that social conservatives *believe* it sometimes acts as an abortifacient.

    On another topic, your link to my blog is outdated. It’s now at http://www.kboreilly.com/howl/.

  • 2 Glen // Nov 23, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    I agree there’s an important distinction between preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum and ejecting the embryo/fetus after implantation. However, “abortion” could reasonably include both. Abortion means the (usually induced) termination of pregnancy, and Merriam-Webster online defines pregnant as “containing unborn young within the body.” Implantation is not part of the definition. Now, my home dictionary (also Merriam-Webster) gives a somewhat different definition that refers to having offspring developing in the uterus; that at least implies implantation, though it’s still not totally clear. In any case, regarding a woman as pregnant when she has a not-yet-implanted fertilized ovum as pregnant doesn’t strike me as totally out of bounds, especially if you believe — as the pro-lifers so often do — that soul implantation occurs at conception.

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Nov 24, 2005 at 1:38 am

    Well, it’s still clear in this case that Miller is just confused and doesn’t understand the difference between RU-486 and other drugs like Plan B. And like I said, you can make the argument that conception is more important or we should think of pregnancy as starting there or whatever, but the technical medical definition places it at implantation according to every source I’ve looked at–or anyway, every source that gets that specific. So even if you think that misguided, it’s scarcely fair to blame reporters for following the standard medical usage.