Harry Forbes has also noticed that the Boston Globe used the dehumanizing term “fetus” when referring to an abandoned child left to die in a high school bathroom. (I blogged about this earlier.) Of course, they must use “fetus” instead of “baby” to avoid implying that the mother’s choice to not become a mother (as if that were possible after conception) was wrong. But what happens is that the reporter (or the editor) is left with some truly dizzying verbal acrobatics.
The white, shoe-box-sized coffin was carefully laid yesterday on the edge of St. Patrick’s Cemetery, a small teddy bear, a cross, and a pink blanket placed on top. The flowers next to the coffin were addressed to Frances Hope, a fetus whose parents are unknown…. Nobody has come forward to claim the remains. Police are searching for whoever delivered the fetus, which was not full-term.
As Harry notes babies have parents and we use the term “premature babies” for children “delivered” before they are full term. And in fact we more commonly use the term “give birth” and not “deliver.” Then, later on, the Globe really does slip up badly.
Social service agencies typically give the last name “Hope” in cases when the identity of an unborn baby is unknown.
Not only do they use the word “baby” here, but they call it “unborn.” Um, yeah except “delivered” babies are no longer “unborn,” since as the reporter says later, “police are searching for whoever delivered the fetus.” Then again, you don’t “deliver” a fetus, but now I’m getting confused by the verbal gymnastics too.
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