AP Fails Journalism 101 As They Embrace Bias to Attack The Language of Life

Caroline Wharton - 14 Feb 2023
Guest post by Students for Life of America’s Contributing Writer Anna Reynolds

GUEST POST: The Associated Press (AP) has recently updated its style guide discouraging the use of the terms crisis pregnancy center and pregnancy resource center. Instead, the revised guidelines suggest calling such pro-life counseling and resource centers simply “anti-abortion centers.” The change has pro-lifers pointing out that the intent of the AP seems to be not to report the news but to control the narrative, which would be an epic failure in any Journalism 101 class where young reporters are taught to distance themselves from bias to cover both sides. 

According to the AP, pregnancy resource centers are “centers set up to divert or discourage women from having abortions, by using counseling, material support and/or housing in an effort to persuade women to bring their pregnancies to term.” If the term crisis pregnancy center is used, the AP advises reporters, the term should be put in quotation marks with the explanation that “anti-abortion centers” “often are known as ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’”  

What the style guide fails to mention? Babies. And the moms who do not want to undergo an abortion but think they have no other choice. These are the people pregnancy resource centers exist to serve.  

And service is the real goal of such centers, as what they do is help young mothers and young families.  

The AP style guide is the most widely used resource for journalists, and the partisan pandering is not surprising. In addition to the revised guidance regarding pregnancy resource centers, the updated style sheet included several other terms related to abortion.  

Among other items, the topical list advises journalists to refer only to “fetal cardiac activity” instead of a preborn baby’s heartbeat, and that only after 10 weeks’ gestation. The sheet advises against referring to babies as babies, instead encouraging the use of “embryo” and “fetus,” terms that indicate a baby at a certain stage of prenatal development. 

The AP also dictates using the modifiers “anti-abortion” and “abortion-rights” instead of “pro-life” and “pro-abortion.” The Daily Signal reports that the changes occurred between November 20 and 27 of last year. The vocabulary overhaul aligns with normalizing the pro-abortion position and ignoring the humanity of the preborn baby. In the case of pregnancy resource centers, the terms undermine the life-saving work of the more than 3,000 centers do on a daily basis.  

“The Associated Press shows itself to be tongue-tied with political correctness in trying to finesse how to explain organizations dedicated to public service,” Kristi Hamrick, chief media and policy strategist at Students for Life of America, told Catholic News Agency regarding the AP changes. 

“Without any sense of irony, they want to call Pregnancy Resource Centers ‘anti-abortion centers,’ diminishing the love and support such nonprofits offer to mothers and their children, born and preborn,” Hamrick said. “With that logic, hospitals must be ‘anti-death centers’ and our food support through the federal government named ‘anti-starving’ programs.” 

At the heart of Pregnancy Care Centers is a love for what pro-life Americans are FOR – For Life, For Hope, For Mother and their children – born and preborn. And the work of such centers shows that love by facilitating a choice for hope and a future. 

The updated terminology is not only biased but also inaccurate. Pregnancy resource centers offer a wide range of services, resources, classes, and medical care (usually for free!). For mothers who think that abortion is their only option or who are facing coercion from parents, a partner, or employer, such resources and support are literally lifesaving.  

Far from being anti-abortion propaganda machines, pregnancy resource centers offer superior services to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood. Researchers found that pregnancy resource centers were far more likely to offer same-day appointments or shorter wait times. Additionally, while abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood typically charge for pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, pregnancy resource centers typically provide these free of charge. 

Ignoring all this, the AP advises reports to “avoid potentially misleading terms such as pregnancy resource centers or pregnancy counseling centers.” According to the AP “these terms don’t convey that the centers’ general aim is to prevent abortions.” No pro-lifer is out simply “to prevent abortions.” Pro-life volunteers across the United States want to save the lives of preborn babies and give mothers real options.  

What the updated style guide demonstrates is a bias that was already obvious. Over the past year, especially since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, pregnancy resource centers have been in the crosshairs of abortion activists. Dozens of pregnancy resource centers have been vandalized, firebombed, attacked, and threatened. From the mainstream media? All we’ve heard are crickets.  

There have been no calls to have criminals found and prosecuted. There has been no outcry in a free and just society for the right of pregnancy resource centers to exist. The word games at the Associated Press are just another attempt to get in line with pro-abortion messaging from elites and undermine the life-saving work of countless pro-life volunteers. 

READ NEXT: Pro-Life Generation Sues After Smithsonian Museums Told Them to Hide or Remove Pro-Life Apparel 

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