Yet again The Daily Mail has excelled itself in sensible and non-sensationalist journalism. I would laugh if it wasn’t so frighteningly influential. Yesterday they printed this story: The foetus who broke into a big smile. As much as I hate to encourage people to read the Mail it’s worth a look. Unfortunately the online version isn’t as bonkers as the printed version was so you won’t be able to fully appreciate the Mail’s ability to turn a simple tale into a moral panic.
Look how sweet it is – a lovely scan photo of a baby grinning merrily in the womb (quite possibly smiling at the cash mummy and daddy will be getting for the story). A photo to show at the child’s wedding no doubt. (“She was so happy even then!”) An inspiring picture which ranks alongside photos of Jesus on a piece of burnt toast or in the lid of a jar of Marmite. (Actually the Mail has already covered the appearance of Jesus in a baby scan: link. Why am I not surprised? Oh, and it gets worse – this one is thrilling: link).
But, in true Mail style, it becomes more sinister. According to the Mail, the fact that the baby is smiling at 17 weeks implies that an unborn child can experience feelings and emotions at a very early stage. “It will prompt further calls from doctors and campaigners to lower the upper abortion limit from 24 weeks. They claim that by this stage the unborn baby can already feel agonising pain and the procedure is therefore inhumane.” Read the print version and substitute “from doctors and campaigners” with “the Mail” and you can see where they’re going with this story. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Watch out for their latest campaign to make the world a lovelier place. On the other hand don’t.
And if this makes you smile then it’s probably just wind.