Showing your stance on abortion through reporting

4 Apr

Before reading this article, I did not know there was an additional charge to killing a pregnant woman.

There is, apparently. There is even a federal law about it – the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The practice of recognizing a fetus as a victim is also a law in 36 states. Illinois, the state in which the incident took place, is one of them.

However, stating a charge that goes hand-in-hand with the abortion debate is a tricky business. Handling the story of a pregnant woman’s death needs to be delicately and with utmost concern of not angering readers, regardless of which side of the abortion debate they are on. The original article succeeds in this.

The public editor’s reply does not. McNulty calls attention to the phrasing and that saying ” three counts of first-degree murder and one count of intentional homicide of an unborn child” makes it sound as if there were four deaths. Well, according to the law in Illinois, it does sound that way. Yet, some may not quite read it that way. Some readers might simply choose to think of it as an extra penalty for killing an expectant mother, and the article will not sway them to question their point of view.

What McNulty fails  to acknowledge is Smith and Shah seem to leave the conclusion of just how many died up to the reader.  By following protocol, they should not be thrown under the proverbial bus. Whoever allowed this editorial to run in a credible news source should be called in for review. While McNulty was simply responding to the coverage of the news, he was bringing up a moot point because the writers were simply following the Tribune’s stylebook. There are enough pro-life supporters to unleash their wrath on the way the article was written. Such controversial whistle blowing should not be coming from a fellow journalist.


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