25 March 2010

Pro Life to Abortion Rights Opponent

NPR is attempting to present a more neutral approach to the abortion issue.  They thought the labels ‘pro life’ and ‘pro choice’ were not neutral; hence the switch.

I think that the change does not make it any more neutral but swings it from a positive anti-abortion pair to a positive pro-abortion pair.  Both of the existing options were chosen by each group to highlight the positive aspects of their arguments.  I believe they should stand as they are because there is no real way to phrase it better.

Maybe the intentions are good, but I do not think that it will center the subject.  Rather than change the phrase, why not focus on presenting centered news stories that present the two sides to the issue.

NPR News is revising the terms we use to describe people and groups involved in the abortion debate.

This updated policy is aimed at ensuring the words we speak and write are as clear, consistent and neutral as possible. This is important given that written text is such an integral part of our work.

On the air, we should use "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" and "abortion rights opponent(s)" or derivations thereof (for example: "advocates of abortion rights"). It is acceptable to use the phrase "anti-abortion", but do not use the term "pro-abortion rights".

Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy.

Do not use "pro-life" and "pro-choice" in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain." [An actuality is a clip of tape of someone talking. So if a source uses those terms, NPR will not edit them out.]


David Sweeney
Managing Editor