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Published On: Mon, Jun 8th, 2015

NY Times botches correction to ‘Unborn child protection act’ article

U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would generally prohibit abortion after 20 weeks fetal age, with certain exceptions, which was characterized as “House Approves Revised Measure Banning Most Abortions After 20 Weeks” by the NY Times. The paper has now backtracked to clarify the errors in their article.

The Times story referred to the House-passed bill as applying “after 20 weeks of pregnancy” and “20 weeks after fertilization” as though those two phrases meant the same thing, when they do not mean the same thing — 20 weeks “after fertilization” is equivalent to 22 “weeks of pregnancy.” The bill that the House passed applies 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is 22 “weeks of pregnancy.” – summarized by Life News.

“Prohibiting most abortions 20 weeks after fertilization would run counter to the Supreme Court’s standard of fetal viability, which is generally put at 22 to 24 weeks after fertilization,” the Times wrote.

 photo Ivon19 via wikimedia commons

photo Ivon19 via wikimedia commons

The US Supreme Court has actually defined “viability” for legal purposes is “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”

Details about the correction and the back-and-forth with the Times can be found at Life News. As noted, the Times are contradicting a report “Premature Babies May Survive at 22 Weeks if Treated, Study Finds,” by Pam Belluck, published only a week earlier (May 6).

That cited study “found that nearly one-quarter of preemies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy survive long term if given “active” assistance. The timeline seems directly in stride with the legislation, but a stark contrast to the Time article.

This is the “incomplete” correction by the Times:

Because of an editing error, an article on May 14 about the House’s recent approval of a ban on most abortions 20 weeks after fertilization misstated the Supreme Court’s position on a general standard of fetal viability. Although the court has said that women have a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, it has not said that viability occurs “22 to 24 weeks after fertilization.”

 

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