Sunday, 1 August 2010

Even when the research comes out pro-choice the Herald tries to make it anti-choice

There was an excellent NZPA summary of new research out highlighting the issue of waiting times for abortions in Aotearoa, which the Herald picked up here.  It's well worth a read, and you can also peruse the original journal article reporting the research at Reproductive Health Journal.

The problem of waiting times is not insignificant, as the later an abortion is left the more complicated it becomes, in terms of both the medical process and the mental health issues for the woman concerned.   The Silva et al research shows that the problem is partly women waiting to seek a termination (maybe if it wasn't so stigmatised to get one they'd go earlier) and partly having to jump through big hoops to get one (which is of course a strong argument for law reform, especially getting rid of the need for permission from two certifying consultants). 

Sadly though someone at the Herald couldn't just let the NZPA story stand on the facts, oh no they had to accompany the online story with a "smiling fetus" image which is just utter rubbish.  Ask any parent of a baby when that kid first smiled and they'll probably furrow their brow a little while they think and then come up with an answer between a month and six weeks after birth.  I remember vividly when Wriggly first smiled; I was changing his nappy and he was about six weeks old.  I love his smile still, even when he's being cheeky and trying to convince me that he can't have been naughty because he's just so adorable.  As special and intelligent as I think my son is, there's no way he, or any other child, was smiling before about four weeks old.  So smiling fetuses are just a myth.

I've sent the below letter of complaint to the Online Editors:
Kia ora,
I have just been reading the NZPA supplied story titled "Women feel wait for abortion too long" at this link:

I am flabbergasted by the incredibly misleading photo and caption used to accompany this story on your website. The caption states:
"A still from a still 4D ultrasound of a 29 week old foetus smiling and moving inside the womb. Photo / Supplied."

It is a well known biological fact that smiling is not possible until four to six weeks after birth. Here's but one of many websites to state this:

I am curious to know who supplied this photo, and how the caption was afixed to it. It is blatantly misleading and, given that abortion is such a controversial subject, it is disappointing to see the Herald failing to do a very simple fact check on this matter.

I look forward to your response.
If you feel so moved as to raise an objection to this also, then you can do so here.  I'll let you know if I get a response. 

Update: Victory! The All Smiling All Dancing All The Time Fetus picture and caption is now gone, replaced by a pic of Steve Chadwick with a caption referring to her possible Bill. I haven't had a response to my complaint email, but the main thing is that it's been changed, and hopefully this won't happen again. Thanks to all who pointed out the ridiculousness of the original pic!


macdoctor said...

Of course it's smiling, Julie. And waving. It's clearly and ultrasound of John Key as a foetus...

Julie said...

And doing a little dance in 2/4 time no doubt.

I remember all those weeks of waiting for the first smile and going "is that wind? No? Oh, yes it is, oh but what about that, oh bugger, that is too."

Giovanni said...

To this day when JK smiles, it's still mostly wind.

Lucia Maria said...

Both my babies smiled at very young ages, so the myth that they don't smile until 6wks or so is clearly wrong.

Neonatal smiling occurs from birth to one month of age and shows no emotional content. Smiles are spontaneous and often occur while the baby is drowsy or during REM stages of sleep. Baby smiles are subcortical in origin and will actually decrease with maturity (so premature babies smile more than full-term babies). And, contrary to popular belief, baby smiles have nothing to do with gas.

Source: Why babies smile

Julie said...

I think you know full well LM that when people think of babies (and indeed older children and adults) smiling they don't mean smiling that "shows no emotional content", as your own quote refers to.

Again with the misleading.

Lucia Maria said...

Yeah, well my quote shows its possible. My personal belief in watching my own babies is that there is "emotional content", but that that content is found in the dream state, which may be more real to them than the real world at that point.

Don't try so hard to dehumanise the unborn baby. It's not a good look.

Julie said...

Being accurate about the ability of fetuses (and newborn babies) to smile with emotional content is now dehumanising? You must find those Disney movies with all the talking, dancing, anthropomorphic animals very confusing.

What's not a good look is continually coming over to a pro-choice blog to try and start flame wars. I leave you alone in your place, perhaps you should consider giving me the same courtesy.

captiver said...

I wrote to NZH online to ask what "supplied" means also. Should have done so sooner!

A Nonny Moose said...

And the eggs I flush down the toilet once a month are winning child beauty paegents. Come on LM, surely you understand commenting 101: anecdotes are not scientific data.

Also, Pareidolia. People are desperate to find meaning to suit their agenda in something that's not there.

ZenTiger said...

As further research is conducted due to improved capability, we see increasing proof that unborn babies are capable of reacting to external stimuli. Smiling may well be an indicator of rudimentary awareness.

I can only guess from your letter to the editor you wish to disagree with any such indicators?

What do you think of mothers reading to their unborn children, or playing music? There seems to be evidence this is not a worthless exercise for the unborn child. What do you think?

McFlock said...

here we go again!

And once again, thanks to those brave and patient enough to deal with trolls.

QoT said...


The eternal ability of prolifers to deliberately ignore the point is inspiring.

Come on, LM and ZT: just admit that you are quite happy for the Herald to publish deliberately emotive images to further stigmatize abortions and the women who have them. A little honesty wouldn't kill you.

Anonymous said...

Go Herald, good on you. Abortion is wrong, no matter what the feminists might say. Let's hope it gets illegalised once again, as it should be, and as it was for so long.

Lucy said...

What do you think of mothers reading to their unborn children, or playing music? There seems to be evidence this is not a worthless exercise for the unborn child. What do you think?

That "seems to be evidence" is a weasel phrase unless backed up by some actual specifics, actually.

Trouble said...

My baby smiled at three weeks - we counted this because she had her eyes open and focused on someone. We didn't count the involuntary twitches she did in her sleep from the day after she was born. It's not awareness if it's something you do in your sleep.

Regardless of this, it's a picture of a 29 week fetus in a story about something that happens to 10 week fetuses. It's like illustrating a story about preschool childcare with a picture of the cast of Glee. It's not the first time they've done this either - they've also used 20-week looking ultrasounds, and third trimester pregnant silhouettes.

Julie said...

I find it intriguing that when there is a chance to comment on fetuses' experiences of pregnancy then ZT and LM are here within hours, but when faced with an actual woman's experiences of pregnancy it's blog silence all the way. Just sayin'.

Anon at 9.24pm, get a handle or get lost.

As to the issue of playing music or whatever to your tenanted uterus. I talk to my cat. Doesn't mean she understands me. Although she is a remarkably intelligent and wondrous cat. The talking is more about me really, just as when I talk to the fetus in my womb it's actually about me too. Or when I talk to my father, who died over two years ago, same thing.

Isn't there some research that shows playing certain kinds of music to plants helps them grow better? Guess you won't be getting your five plus a day then ZT.

Boganette said...

I sent them an email too. It's ridiculous.

Glad you pointed out the NZ Cons silence on other posts Julie.

I'm sure ZT and LM will race to address that.


"Don't try so hard to dehumanise the unborn baby. It's not a good look." - I find it hilarious that you're telling people what is and isn't a good look LM. Thankfully anti-choicers like yourself actually help our cause with your fake abortion photos, idiotic blog posts and complete inability to understand irony or sarcasm.

And I'll take a moment again to say that The Hand Mirror is doing a brilliant job of keeping everyone informed here. Thanks for all your hard work.

Julie said...

Thanks B - I've put an update on the post itself, but for those who are just going straight to comments, it appears all the complaints have been effective as the picture has now been changed to one of Steve Chadwick, with a caption related to her possible Bill. Who said moaning never gets you anywhere? ;-)

Giovanni said...

Result! Well done.

ZenTiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZenTiger said...

I removed my previous comment. It's really not a pleasant experience debating here, so you will be happy to hear I will keep my comments infrequent and occasional.

I will at least respond to the tumbleweed comment, when Julie said:

I find it intriguing that when there is a chance to comment on fetuses' experiences of pregnancy then ZT and LM are here within hours, but when faced with an actual woman's experiences of pregnancy it's blog silence all the way. Just sayin'.

This post I am commenting on was generic - there was no specific person involved. The other post was not. I withheld my comments on the other post out of respect for the person's story. I read it though, and it was very moving.

I try to comment in general terms on general posts, and if some-one has a problem with that, and asked me to desist, I have always done that.

There is nothing sinister in that Julie, just following your request for sensitivity.

PS: "Tenanted uterus"? An interesting use of sarcasm, irony or whatever you want to call it.

Boganette - I agree, fake pictures do the pro-life side no credit. There is no room for lies in such an emotionally charged, life and death debate. I don't have a problem with real pictures though - and always happy for you to put a nickel next to them (was that your suggestion or the Queen of Thorns?) if you think that makes all the difference. It's still truth.

Boganette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boganette said...

Actually it was sarcasm by QOT but we are now all well aware that you NZ Cons are unable to comprehend sarcasm or irony. In case you're getting the two of us confused - I'm the one you guys think worships Satan and collects lopped-off balls.

And continue your weekends trawling through foetus photos to look for the tastiest one to chuck on your website. We still know "the truth" about those photos. But then that may be because most of us know basic biology. But ya'know if you're homeschooled....

Oh and comparing a women who has had an abortion to a woman who murdered eight of her newborn children - you don't think that's going a tad too far? Or is that The Truth(tm) NZ Con style?

I personally see through your "I'm just trying to be sensitive" bullshit ZT. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

ZenTiger said...

I personally see through your "I'm just trying to be sensitive" bullshit ZT. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

No seriously, I restrain myself considerably commenting here.

Julie said...

Ok B and ZT, it's time for a nice calming cup of chamomile tea or something (and for me too).

As to the "tenanted uterus" line. Many years ago I was told that it's a good idea in writing to try to use different words when you need to say the same thing over and over. This is why I went through a period of using XX sometimes when I wanted to use woman but had just already used it in the same para. I'm trying out lots of different ways of referring to fetuses in utero because I am anticipating I'm going to be writing a lot about this in the future. I didn't think "tenanted uterus" would be offensive to anyone, interesting to see that it might be although I'm bamboozled as to why.

(Btw I stopped using XX because I realised it excluded those who identified as women but weren't XX in a chromosomal sense, e.g. transgender women.)

Matthew Holloway said...

Is there a photo of the smiling fetus? As they've removed it I can't tell what you're all talking about.

Julie said...

Again, deleted comment for possible impersonation. If you are legit get a new handle and try again (although you might want to moderate your tone a bit too).

Julie said...

Matthew, I'm not sure if any of the blogs that have written about it have had the pic up, but I haven't seen it there (just on the original and on FB feeds). The issue isn't so much the pic itself (although, as Trouble iirc has pointed out it is pretty inaccurate to have a 29 week scan illustrating a story about abortions that happen before 20 weeks) as the caption, which is included in the original post.

Will see what I can do about possibly adding the pic to the post sometime in the next couple of days, now that it has been replaced by the Herald.

stargazer said...

i'd rather you didn't - why should we have a picture we object to on this site? but that's just my opinion, and it's up to you. maybe just a link to it would be better.

nznative said...

Julies post highlights how our mainstream media 'spins' news story's into whatever barrow they wish to push.

In the case of our newspapers this barrow pushing seems very dependent on the editors political views and affiliations. For the moment I'm calling this continual spin on our news the Richard Long effect. Richard Long is a national party hack and one time Dominion editor.

It causes our news to be reported in an unbalanced non-neutral way. Its subtle ( and sometimes not so subtle ) propaganda and it is designed to bring support to certain political party's and their policy's .

The National party has always been conservative and against anything which challenges the old power structures and concentration of money and wealth which they represent.

Expect the Herald to back the Govt line on most issues.

and if John Key was asked a serious question about abortion he'd quickly prattle on about his vasectomy again.

Another thing Julies post confirms is that the same old trolls ( I'm looking at you Lm and ZT ) will come and try to drown a thread if it touches on certain topics.

Maybe they think god is telling them too or something ...........