From “El Diario de Hoy”, El Salvador
(Wednesday January 3rd, 2007)
The main article of the weekly Magazine of The New York Times in April of 2006 stated that in this country a woman had been sentenced to thirty years for an abortion. The story has been utilized by a pro-abortion NGO to request contributions through the Internet. The newspaper corrected the story on December 31st.
It is not the first time that The New York Times has to excuse itself to its readers because one of the stories published in its pages turns out not to be true. Nevertheless, this time the report that utilized inaccurate information concerned El Salvador, and a Salvadoran woman, supposedly sentenced to thirty years in prison for having aborted an 18 week fetus.
The report, entitled “Pro Life Nation”, published in the New York Times weekly Magazine on April 9th, 2006, deals with something that the author considers the hardening of the laws against abortion since 1997. As an illustration of his purported investigation, the freelance journalist Jack Hitt tells about his meeting with Carmen Climaco in the women’s jail and concludes: “She had had a clandestine abortion at 18 weeks of pregnancy (…), something defined as perfectly legal in the US. The problem is that she had an abortion in El Salvador.”
Eight months later this phrase has been rejected by the public editor Byron Calame, who is responsible for answering the complaints of the NYT readers. In the article “Truth, Justice, Abortion and the New York Times Magazine”, published on December 31st, Calame recognizes that the journalist did not have in his hands the judicial documents of the Climaco case.
According to Hitt himself, his report on the sentence to thirty years in prison was based on a translation provided by a collaborator of the NGO IPAS. This organization presents itself in the internet as promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of women, and as an advisor in matters concerning help for abortions and post-abortions.
For Calame, this constitutes lack of due diligence in the work of Hitt. This error could have been avoided if the editors of the NYT had requested the juridical documentation backing the statements of Hitt, but they did
not do so.
The article of Calame was published in response to reader’s complaints, who, through the web site LifeSiteNews.com became aware that Climaco had not been condemned for an abortion, but for having strangled her baby girl, born alive, after forty weeks of pregnancy.
The editors of this web site had access to the juridical expedient, and translated it, something that Hitt had not done.
The front page of the expedient 0103-126-2002 of the third Tribunal of Sentence of San Salvador begins stating: “Having seen in oral trial the penal process number 148-02-3a, instituted against the accused Karlina del Carmen Herrera Climaco o Karina del Carmen Climaco, aged twenty four years”.
The relation of the facts follow: Climaco was detained after agents of the PNC confirmed the information that in her home, in San Bartolo, was found the body “of a human being in development”. Notwithstanding, in the second page, according to the results of the autopsy, it was established that the cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation.
In his article, Jack Hitt presented Climaco as a desperate woman, mother of three children, whose mother had threatened her with expelling her from the home if she would get pregnant again. What Hitt omitted was the force that Climaco applied to the neck of the infant.
The report “Pro Life Nation” not only was based on false information, but has been utilized by the IPAS NGO to organize a campaign to collect funds, between April and December of 2006.
Arguing that Carmen Climaco would be helped to get out of jail and travel to the US, IPAS requested donations in their web site: “You can 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”, states the NGO.
The campaign to collect funds was suspended once the New York Times got in touch with IPAS to get information on the case. Yesterday El Diario de Hoy attempted to obtain the official position of that organization based in Managua, Nicaragua.
The assistant of Dr. Marta Maria Blandon, director of IPAS Central America, stated that her boss was not in town. In addition, she stated that only Blandon could make statements concerning the case of Climaco, and about the kind of assistance that the organization provides to the Maternity Hospital of El Salvador.
On November 27th, LifeSiteNews.net invited its readers to complain to the editor of the New York Times. This led the public Editor, Byron Calame, to question the way the facts had not been investigated for the report “Pro Life Nation”.
In this way, Calame got the expedient that LifeSiteNews.net had obtained, and determined that Climaco had been condemned for aggravated homicide of a live born baby of forty weeks of gestation, and not for having aborted an 18 week fetus.
Questioning the editors, he determined that they did not doubt the credibility of the report by Jack Hitt. And from him, he found out that he had used a translation of the judicial sentence elaborated by a consultant who has done work for IPAS.
Yesterday the New York Observer informed that the NYT is planning to forgo the services of Byron Calame when his contract as public editor expires.