Last week The Guardian published an article by Poppy Noor entitled ‘What a pregnancy actually looks like at 10 weeks – in pictures’. The article is ostensibly about debunking misleading pro-life claims – yet it itself is, well, seriously misleading. Just to be clear, we are not saying that Noor or The Guardian set out to misinform their readers; but this, regrettably, has been the result. Monica Snyder of Secular Pro-Life has written an excellent blog post about why this is so – we recommend reading it. Essentially, the Guardian article exemplifies a problem which would seem to be widespread within the pro-choice movement: reluctance to acknowledge established facts about foetal development.
The photos used to illustrate the article are not from an embryology textbook but from the MYA Network, an organisation of pro-choice clinicians (MYA is short for My Abortion). Dr Joan Fleischman of the MYA Network is quoted in the article as saying: ‘A lot of early pregnancy images are driven by people who are against abortion and feel hat life begins at conception, or by prenatal enthusiasts who want women to be excited by their pregnancy. What about people who aren’t?’ Dr Fleischman doesn’t go so far as to say that such images are bogus but instead says she seeks to show people what ‘early pregnancy tissue’ ‘actually looks like’.
Another member of the MYA Network, Dr Michele Gomez, is also quoted: ‘We’re just putting out the information and the facts to counter the misinformation. To say: this is not something that’s scary, or dangerous, or violent. It’s just a picture of something that’s in your body.’ That would be well and good if it were true – but it simply isn’t. As Monica Snyder points out:
[…] MYA Network’s photos are non-descript (and artificially monochromatic) blobs of tissue. The network explains they rinse off the blood and menstrual lining before photographing the tissue. They do not explain that abortion procedures can destroy embryos beyond recognition. Ms. Noor and Dr. Fleischman instead imply we can’t see the aborted embryos because they are simply too small.
One of the photos featured in the article ‘shows the gestational sac of a nine-week pregnancy. This is everything that would be removed during an abortion and includes the nascent embryo, which is not easily discernible to the naked eye’. But as Snyder points out, an embryo at that stage of development would be 1.3 to 1.7 cm – i.e. clearly discernible to the naked eye.
As Snyder puts it, ‘It’d be difficult for me to find a clearer example of how abortion rights rely on miseducation.’
The Guardian is a reputable newspaper. They are open about their pro-choice position but they also have a stated belief in ‘quality, truthful news’. Now that Secular Pro-Life have helpfully pointed out the flaws in the article, it is incumbent upon The Guardian to correct it. Let’s hope that they do.