On television, "fetus" and "baby" were almost interchangeable. On NBC's "Today," news reader Ann Curry relayed that "Darlene Haynes was found dead on Monday in her apartment, her fetus taken from her womb. The baby was found alive last night." Co-host Matt Lauer offered the same contrast: "Her fetus has been taken from her womb. Last night as neighbors and friends mourned outside her home, police reported the missing baby had been found alive, 130 miles away in New Hampshire."
On ABC's "Nightline," reporter Stephanie Sy used both terms as she described the sickening (if rare) criminal trend: "In 2000, the body of an Ohio woman was found in a shallow grave with her fetus removed. In 2004, a Kansas woman's baby was carved out of her womb with a kitchen knife, and just last month, a pregnant woman was killed by a woman she met on Craigslist. The baby died shortly after being ripped from the mother."
Media outlets must have received an avalanche of responses on their terminology, and in the wake of the mother's violent end, and that she didn't make the "choice" of terminating her pregnancy, the word "baby" became common. It also helped that the baby girl (named "Alita" by the suspected murderess) survived the assault.
In the second go-round, Fox News carried the headline "Woman Suspected of Cutting Baby From Massachusetts Mom's Womb Held on $2M Bail." CNN's story came with the title: "Baby cut from slain mom's womb found alive." The Boston Herald reported, "Suspect in brutal murder, baby snatch held $2M bail." NBC's Ann Curry announced that the suspect was "arrested in connection with the murder of a pregnant woman whose baby was taken from her womb."
Online, ABC News updated the story with "Baby Cut From Slain Mom's Womb Found Alive." They ruined the trend with this later headline: "Slain Pregnant Woman Lived in Same Building With Accused Fetus-Stealer."
In a media world that's sensitive enough to fire radio hosts for saying "nappy" next to "hos," where White House reporters scream for Fox hosts to be fired for suggesting the president is a racist, when will the time come that journalists are sensitive enough to stop denying the humanity of an unborn 8-month-old child? Or at the very least, could they stop demeaning the harsh reality of a child cruelly ripped from a murdered mother's womb?
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