"Irritating" Labeling Habits at the Times

"Irritating" Labeling Habits at the Times

Thursday's front-page story by Pam Belluck features a couple who had a child from an embryo left over from a fertility clinic. But it gets off on the left foot with the headline "From Stem Cell Opponents, an Embryo Crusade."

MRC's TimGraham argues that phrase is misleading: "Pro-lifers aren't even stem cell research opponents.They are embryo-destruction opponents, not 'stem cell opponents.' This isn't just a lingo dispute. This is an accuracy dispute."

Belluck sets the scene of the married couple from Bellevue, Wash.: "Randy and Julie McClure had three children who were long out of diapers and no plans for more when they heard about a program called Snowflakes, which arranges for women to become pregnant with embryos left over at fertility clinics."

Some don't like the term "embryo adoption," apparently: "The adoption terminology irritates the fertility industry, abortion rights advocates and supporters of embryonic stem cell research, who believe that the language suggests - erroneously, they maintain - that an embryo has the same status as a child. But for some conservative Christians, that is precisely the point. 'I think appearing with Snowflakes kids is a potent symbol, and I think it illustrates the truth, which is that the embryo is just that child at an earlier stage of development,' said Bill Saunders, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Life and Bioethics."

Yet some readers of the Times are also "irritated" by the paper's consistent labeling disparity, in which "conservative Christians" are pitted against plain-old "supporters of embryonic stem cell research," who apparently haven't had a political thought in their lives.

Belluck takes care to note that most involved in donation and adoption of these embryos are white Christians (their political conservatism having already been established by Belluck): "Couples adopting or donating Snowflakes embryos are mostly Christian, and most embryo donors are white, [Snowflakes director Lori] Maze said. Some families are Roman Catholic, even though the church has historically opposed in vitro fertilization."

To read the rest of Belluck on embryo adoption, click here:

Charismatic Castro

Juan Forero's Wednesday "Letter from South America" examines the popularity of Venezuela's left-wing president Hugo Chavez. Buried in Forero's account of the adulation the leftist leader receives during his tours of Latin America ("Opposition to U.S. Makes Chavez a Hero to Many") is a brief note that Chavez "stands accused of curtailing press freedom and judicial independence."

(Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl, noted in March how "Chavez is moving to eliminate critical journalists.The first step was a new media content law, adopted by the Chavez-controlled legislature last December, that subjects broadcast media to heavy fines or the loss of their licenses for disseminating information deemed 'contrary to national security,'" followed by "a new penal code that criminalizes virtually any expression to which the government objects - not only in public but also in private.")

But Forero doesn't dwell on those unflattering aspects of Chavez, instead comparing the leader to a long-time anti-American dictator - as a compliment: "It is the kind of public adoration that brings to mind another Latin American leader, Fidel Castro, who for more than 45 years has drawn accolades wherever he has gone, much to Washington's chagrin. Now, it seems, the torch is being passed, and it is Mr. Chvez who is emerging as this generation's Castro - a charismatic figure and self-styled revolutionary who bearhugs his counterparts on state visits, inspires populist left-wing movements and draws out fervent well-wishers from Havana to Buenos Aires. Like Mr. Castro, Mr. Chvez is burnishing his image by mining latent anti-American sentiment and capitalizing on Washington's mistakes, like the tacit support the White House gave to a short-lived coup against him in 2002."

For the full Forero on Fidel (and Chavez), click here: