Further Errors Revealed in New York Times’ El Salvador Abortion Article
By Meg Jalsevac
EL SALVADOR, January 24, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The El Salvador newspaper, El Diario de Hoy, has exposed further errors in the New York Times’ report that LifeSiteNews brought to international attention for its erroneous and unapologetic content about the pro-life legal environment in El Salvador.
LifeSiteNews.com first exposed the NYT’s faulty journalism in the article, “Pro-Life Nation”, in which freelance journalist Jack Hitt erroneously reported, among other inaccuracies, that a young El Salvadorian woman was serving a 30 year jail sentence for “an abortion that was ruled a homicide.” In fact, according to public court records obtained by LifeSiteNews, the woman, Carmen Climaco, was given a strict sentence after it was determined that she had strangled and attempted to hide the body of her newly born, full-term baby.
After LifeSiteNews publicized the glaring inaccuracies on which Hitt based his article, El Diario de Hoy provided wide coverage and consistent refutation in El Salvador of Hitt’s accusations.
Five weeks after the initial LifeSiteNews article and one week after a scathing corroboration by the NYT’s own public editor of the corrections necessary to Hitt’s story, the NYT’s added an ‘Editor’s Note’ to the bottom of his article admitting that Hitt neglected to verify the court documents about the Climaco case. Leaving the erroneous contents of the article intact, they also admitted that the picture caption in his article was wrong in saying that Climaco was sentenced to 30 years in jail for an abortion that was ruled a homicide. The Editor’s Note implies that those are the only inaccuracies in the article and assures NYT readers that the publication will continue to investigate the story.
El Diario de Hoy has taken issue with the fact that, despite the NYT’s assurance that they will continue to investigate the details surrounding the case, the NYT insists on continuing to report that Climaco’s crime was abortion rather than homicide.
However, El Diario de Hoy has continued to investigate other details found in Hitt’s article and they have once again gone to print to expose further errors in his report.
Last week, El Diario de Hoy accused the NYT’s piece of further inaccuracies saying, “The author of the report “Pro-Life Nation”, Jack Hitt, employed unorthodox methods in his investigation. According to judicial documents and statements of the D.A.s, the report published in the magazine of the New York Times on April 9th, 2006 is overburdened with misrepresented statements and details.”
The newspaper took issue with some relatively minor but seemingly manipulative inaccuracies in Hitt’s sloppy journalism pointing out that he attributed the wrong name to the DA who handled Climaco’s case. Hitt referred to her as Tropez when, in fact, her name is Lopez.
Hitt also asserted that Lopez told him that a baby is determined viable if it is over 1 lb.
When interviewed by El Diario de Hoy, Lopez denied ever having said this to Hitt and instead explained the scientific test known as “dosimasia”, which a forensic medical team uses to determine if a baby was aborted or born alive by whether or not its lungs floated in water and so had been filled with air upon taking the first breath. Court records show that this test was performed on Climaco’s dead baby.
El Diario de Hoy also took issue with Hitt’s description of the DA as a severe woman with tightly pulled back hair, significant make-up and a “beautiful silver cross around her neck with smaller crosses as earrings.”
The authors of the El Diario de Hoy refuted Hitt’s physical description of Lopez and said that, according to Lopez herself, the day that Hitt interviewed her, she was not wearing the necklace and earrings that Hitt described. Lopez stated that a woman with an Argentinean accent called her after her interview with Hitt and asked if she had a cross with a chain. When Lopez affirmed that she had such a necklace at home she was asked to describe it. Lopez asserted that that is how Hitt acquired his information about her apparel.
The newspaper went on to focus on inaccuracies of a more serious nature. Beyond the obvious misrepresentation of the basic details of the Climaco case, Hitt asserted in his article that the DAs involved in abortion cases in El Salvador work on the premise that “longer sentences are better.” He also reiterated his assertion that late-term abortions are prosecuted as homicides.
The leaders of the units that focus on Crimes Against Women and Minors in two different areas in El Salvador refuted Hitt’s claim by emphasizing that DAs only investigate the crime – they do not impose the sentence. They also objected to Hitt’s classification of late abortions as “aggravated homicide” cases.
Climaco’s case was initially investigated as a possible abortion case but, upon expert testimony that her baby was born alive, was then introduced as a possible homicide case.
Hitt himself admits that he used a non-paid translator from the strongly pro-abortion organization, IPAS during his visit to El Salvador. IPAS is a non-profit United Nations NGO whose website claims its purpose is “to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and to reduce death and injuries from unsafe abortions.”
A pro-life expert from Latin America was quoted in C-FAM’s ‘Friday Fax’ questioning the legitimacy of IPAS’ mission in countries such as El Salvador saying that they are working for legal abortion “because they want to sell their abortion vacuum machines in huge quantities. They shouldn’t have the status of an NGO since they are really dealers, they distribute and profit from selling these machines.”
After the New York Times report was originally printed, IPAS used the faulty journalism to launch a web campaign to raise funds “to help Carmen Climaco and other women like her. With your donation the office of IPAS in Central America, which enjoys recognized prestige, can provide Carmen with the judicial representation that she deserves."
El Diario de Hoy reported that the campaign was removed from the website shortly after the New York Times followed up with IPAS for further information after the authenticity of the original story was challenged.
El Diario de Hoy reported that Climaco has stated that she has received no assistance from an NGO.
Finally, El Diario de Hoy requested comment from Judge Margarita Sanabria, a judge on the initial tribunal dealing with the Climaco case. Sanabria gave several comments to the NYT supporting Hitt’s false accusation that the longer the prison sentence, “so much the better for DAs”. When asked by Hitt about the Climaco case, Sanabria said, “I feel bad about it.”
Sanabria would not affirm or deny her comments published in the NYT when asked by staff of El Diario de Hoy. El Diario de Hoy also noted that Sanabria worked “with IPAS in the elaboration of investigations over the laws against abortion in our country.”
According to El Diario de Hoy, Sanabria has previously expressed her dislike of their coverage of the Climaco case and asserted that it has stemmed from Regina del Cardenal, a member of the Yes to Life Foundation and opinion column contributor to El Diario de Hoy.
To express concern to UN officials over IPAS’ involvement in the Climaco case:
Email: [email protected]
To respectfully express concerns to New York Times officials email:
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher:
Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager
Read Previous LifeSiteNews.com Coverage:
New York Times Caught in Abortion-Promoting Whopper - Infanticide Portrayed as Abortion
Largest El Salvador Paper Publishes Front Page Story on New York Times Abortion Bias
New York Times Ombudsman Admits Paper Was Caught in Misrepresentation by LifeSiteNews.com
New York Times Finally Issues Correction on Abortion El Salvador Story
The New York Times, deceived (Unofficial translation)