Friday, February 02, 2007

FETUS OR BABY?

AK spotted this AP report and now we're perplexed.

In Kansas City, two cops have been suspended (with pay). A lawsuit claims the officers arrested a pregnant woman, Sofia Salva, and refused her pleas for medical help. Salva had a miscarriage in jail. She was three months pregnant, by her own account.

From The AP:
(Salva) was arrested Feb. 5 and held overnight on traffic violations and outstanding city warrants. After being released the next morning, she delivered a premature baby boy who died immediately after birth, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
A first-trimester fetus is a "baby"? We're not cracking wise here -- maybe the language is from Silva's lawsuit -- but wouldn't it be more accurate to say she miscarried in jail?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Might be more accurate in a simple, sterile journalistic sense, but ask any woman who has suffered the physical and emotional pain of a miscarriage and I'll bet you won't find anyone who will say she lost her first-trimester fetus. She'll tell you she lost her baby. Pro-life or pro-choice, doesn't matter.

Life is lived in terms of the real world, and not always in the narrow definitions of the AP stylebook. Is the phrase "she delivered a premature baby boy," particularly within the surrounding context of the story, really too confusing for you to understand what happened here?

RON DAVIS said...

Anon 915: How is it that a first-trimester fetus "died immediately" after birth? Doesn't that imply viable life?

As for the "narrow confines of the AP" Stylebook -- hey, it's an AP story.

Amy said...

I've seen the video that's been making the rounds of the net. This woman, according to CNN, asked 21 TIMES to be taken to the hospital because she was having complications with her pregnancy and bleeding. One of the arresting officers can be heard to say "it's called a menstrual cycle."
Regardless of this woman's past troubles with the law, the behavior of the arresting officers is questionable at best. As to the semantics of the reporting, we'll be here all day arguing that one red. I think the larger issue here is this gal was treated as someone less than human herself.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Amy, about the larger issue.

If Ron really wants to quibble about semantics and style, a miscarried child, even at three months, can appear animated and, yes, "alive," outside a womb, which perhaps could explain the AP writer's word choice. If the baby/fetus were not alive outside the womb, perhaps the writer would have been more accurate to have used the term "stillborn."

Regardless, Amy is right. The larger and more disturbing issue here isn't how the AP described the miscarriage, it's the conduct of the police that preceeded it.

RON DAVIS said...

Agred, the alleged conduct by police is disturbing, and if what is alleged is true, they should be fired, at a minimum. But the language issue isn't a quibble, for two reasons:

•Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue like to seize certain words to make their point.

•It's about accuracy. If this was a live birth of a three-month-old fetus, that would be extraordinary (and the story would be accurate). That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I stirred up a hornet's nest. That's what I love about journalism!

I think Ron is right: "If this was a live birth of a three-month-old fetus, that would be extradordinary ..."

Yes, the story is disturbing in many ways, but most incredible is the "delivery" of a three-month-old fetus. I'm aware of the emotional feelings surrounding a "miscarriage." I've experienced a delivery and a miscarriage. Not the same. Not even close.

John Stone said...

Actually, we know that gawd herself kills about 3 out of every 4 babies. The number of successful term pregnancies vs the number of eggs fertilized is 1:4

Gawd as the biggest baby-killer? What would VD(j) say?

Strannix said...

Ron is quite right regarding the issue that the language used in a story is important. There seem to be a number of journalists anymore who do not know the difference between reporting & editorializing.

This brings up an old memory of Tony Beeson anchoring on KY3. In a story about Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Beeson repeatedly referred to Keverokian as "Dr. Death." Not "alleged" or "so-called" but simply "Dr. Death." Suffice to say, I don't miss Tony much.

Anonymous said...

I believe he's called a baby if you want him and a fetus if you're trying to convince yourself that it isn't a baby....

Anonymous said...

Semantics, what does that matter.

They let a women who asked to get medical treatment 21 TIMES have a miscarrage in jail. THAT IS THE ISSUE.

This country is on the road to a "Come to Jesus" meeting with the people who live here. Let's let them know how we feel about being treated like less than human.

I hope she sues the crap out of them and those police officers
both loose their jobs and have to clean toilets for the rest of their lives.

WAKE UP FOLKS, THIS COULD BE YOU NEXT.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:40: Nice try, but I'm not buying it. I've miscarried two planned pregnancies I wanted to carry to term. While sad and feeling loss, in those first trimester miscarriages, I didn't feel the loss of "a baby." I felt loss for what might have been, for what I wanted, for what I hoped for, but I've been more upset when my born children have been seriously hurt, sick or in trouble. Pro-life types use the baby/fetus want it/don't want it analogy. I've been on both sides of this coin. You can't speak for all women, at least not this one.

In addition, while men can have an opinion, only a woman knows the emotional and physical differences between miscarriages and live births, and really, only if she's been through them. That's why we should not have men - and or legislators - making reproductive decisions for women.

Darin said...

This is an interesting issue and one coming to a head in a number of states. In California for instance, if you push a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs resulting in a miscarriage you're in fact gullty of murder. This brings up a lot of questions whereas in one instance the "celluar structure" is material best used for research and in another a life.
I've yet to hear the term coined "miscarried a fetus" this may be the motivation behind the AP writer's choice of words.
Just a thought.