Anti-abortion. Pro-choice. Anti-choice. Pro-abort. Words obviously convey a message, and for many news outlets, it’s a message they are trying to pay more attention to. Which is why National Public Radio’s Ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, spent some time examining his own outlet’s use of the term “abortion doctor.”
We don’t say a physician is an STD doctor. Or a child-birth doctor. Or a breast-exam doctor.
So as listener Marcia Bryant of Cleveland, OH, objected, why did a Morning Edition broadcast earlier this week refer to an obstetrician as an “abortion doctor”?
She’s right. Alternative titles are more accurate, avoiding the over-simplification of labeling OB/GYNs after one of the many services they provide.
In dealing with the issue earlier, NPR’s own internal style guide says: “Do not refer to murdered Dr George Tiller as an ‘Abortion Doctor.’ Instead we should say Tiller operated a clinic where abortions are performed. We can also make reference to the fact that Tiller was a doctor who performed late term abortions.”
The outlet then apologized for any word choices that could be construed as incendiary, and promised to be more “accurate in framing an issue in all its complexity” in the future.