AP's Fetus Fixation: News Wire Fails to Call Stillborn Baby a Baby

It's a sad and horrifying story enough as it is, yet the Associated Press surely has compounded the grief for a Texas couple with its January 23 story, "Lawsuit: Stillborn Was Put in Laundry," excerpted below (h/t NB reader Tracy Zeeb):

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A couple filed a lawsuit against a hospital alleging that it sent their stillborn fetus's body with dirty laundry to the cleaners.

The Huguley Memorial Medical Center of Fort Worth staff took 19 hours to find the missing body, which was unpreserved and by then had been crushed and disfigured, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Kourtney McGee of Cleburne went to Huguley in July because she was bleeding in her second trimester, then gave birth to Jacob Dwayne Robinson. According to the lawsuit, staff told McGee and the father, Milburn "Pete" Robinson of Alvarado, that the body would be taken the morgue.

Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you. This couple named their stillborn infant. Clearly they were and are grieving the loss, compounded with the pain of the hospital's careless treatment of their son's body. Yet that's no matter to the AP, which stuck to a cold and clinical dismissal of their stillborn son as a "fetus."

MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell recently penned a column in which he urged the media to "Ban the Word 'Fetus.'":

While Gloria Steinem is fussing on National Public Radio about why the B-word isn’t taken as seriously as the N-word, perhaps pro-lifers need to really accuse America of insensitivity to what they’ve long seen as an F-bomb: "Fetus."

What a cold, humanity-negating word that is. Happy pregnant women carry "babies." But indecisive or panicked pregnant women carry a "fetus." How discriminatory that sounds in regard to an innocent human life.

"Fetus" has a dictionary definition: the young of a mammal that resembles its parents in physical form, in our case, a human with hands and feet and eyes and a beating heart. But to our media and political analysts, it has a different definition: a subhuman appendage, a disposable mass of tissue, a slave to our whims, and too often, a casualty of our irresponsibility.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.