Planned Parenthood is finding that the label “pro-choice” is too limiting and is searching for new language:

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. “I’m pro-whatever-the-situation is.” Said another, “there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances […] It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.” A recent research push by the organization found that large numbers of Americans feel this way — uncomfortable with both the pro-life and pro-choice labels. And so Planned Parenthood’s newest messaging will be moving away from the language of choice.

Polling conducted on Planned Parenthood’s behalf appears to show some dissatisfaction with the labels. In one 2012 poll, 35% of voters who identified as pro-life also believed Roe v. Wade should not be overturned (7% of pro-choice voters, meanwhile, thought it should be). And in an online survey of recent voters, 12% said they were both pro-life and pro-choice, and another 12% said they wouldn’t use those terms. When asked for their moral opinions on abortion, 40% of those voters said “it depends on the situation” — far more than called the procedure either acceptable or unacceptable.

via Planned Parenthood Moving Away From “Choice”.

So some people who call themselves “pro-life” believe abortion should be legal, and some who call themselves “pro-choice” believe it shouldn’t be.  This could be stupidity or it could be postmodernism.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.  But the view that refuses ANY objective commitment, that “it depends on the situation,” that is definitely postmodernism.

Can you think of other words and euphemisms that might work for what Planned Parenthood is trying to do?  What would be some alternative language to “pro-choice” and “pro-life” that could frame the issues differently, perhaps in favor of the pro-life position?  (My proposal of pro-life vs. pro-death hasn’t gotten very far.)

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  • tODD

    Veith said:

    So some people who call themselves “pro-life” believe abortion should be legal, and some who call themselves “pro-choice” believe it shouldn’t be.

    Perhaps that’s so, but you appear to be making the fundamental mistake that equates Roe v. Wade with the legalization of abortion. That’s not really what Roe v. Wade did. For instance, a pro-choice libertarian would still favor overturning Roe because of how it concentrates power in the federal government. Presumably, such a person would prefer that states individually legalize abortion.

    But the view that refuses ANY objective commitment, that “it depends on the situation,” that is definitely postmodernism.

    No it’s not. Okay, maybe it is if the people truly refused “ANY objective commitment”, but that’s not what the article says. It was an online poll, for heaven’s sake! They could check one of several boxes to express their view on abortion, one of which was “it depends on the situation”. Are you really going to cry “Postmodernism!” and let slip the dogs of Culture War on such a slim basis?

    Heck, I think many Christians, even those we would describe as firmly “pro-life”, could answer “it depends”. I could. There are situations where abortion can be considered a reasonable option — where it is an option that might preserve the most number of lives in a medical emergency. Those situations are rare, of course, and I in no way mean to ignore or condone the vast number of abortions undertaken for more selfish reasons.

  • How about we just tack some adjectives on to the standard euphemisms?
    “Ethical Pro Choice” for those who generally support abortion, but think that there are such things as abortions that ought not be performed.
    “Compassionate Pro Life” for those who oppose gratuitous abortion, but think there are certain situations where murdering innocent babies is justified.

  • That’s a moral cop-out at the very least, and gross relativism at worst.

  • Pete

    Your stance on this thing can be “biocidal” or it can be “biophilic”. You can be a “biocide” or you can be a “biophile”.

  • Rose

    “It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.”
    Not for the child.
    It’s life or death.

  • SKPeterson

    The abortion group has been slightly more successful in taking the pro-choice terminology and then labeling its opponents as anti-woman. To some extent, that would account for the qualms expressed in the responses. I also think that one tacit admission in this is the recognition that life not only gets messy, it sometimes gets downright ugly. In those instances, where people truly are faced with making a horrific choice, we extend our compassion and sympathy – we don’t want to aggravate an already trying period with the possible threat of legal sanction. We just simply recognize the travails that accompany life. That being said, we should also note that in our discussions and reviews of abortion in the past, the statistical evidence for these sad occurrences within the overall abortion rates are trivial. The pro-life movement needs to perhaps not use the term “pro-death” for their opponents, but use the phrase “anti-child” as the phrase “pro-family”.

  • Orianna Laun

    When it comes right down to it, abortion is exceedingly selfish. I wonder how many people use the “mass of cells” argument to justify themselves, knowing (however deeply down) full well that it is still a baby. It is just a baby that is inconvenient, for whatever reason. Some excuses are more emotion-laden than others, but it still comes down to “Carrying a baby for nine months in my body and then giving birth to it and then having to do something with it once it is born is not convenient for me.”
    I suppose calling oneself “pro-selfish decisions, no matter how well-justified, to kill a child” does not roll trippingly off the tongue. It also might be offensive to some who deny that abortion is wrong. What would one call the other side? How about “trying to help women and men and the babies they make, intentionally or unintentionally”.

  • Trey

    Pro-infant vs pro-death

  • Carl Vehse

    The pro-life movement needs to perhaps not use the term “pro-death” for their opponents, but use the phrase “anti-child” as the phrase “pro-family”.

    Pro-life people needs to identify pro-abortionists for what they truly are – genocidal murdering traitors, who (especially their leaders) need to be brought to justice by trial, conviction, and carrying out of the sentence.

    Otherwise, “pro-life” means little more than a personal preference, fashion choice, or sophistic moralism.

  • Tom Hering

    Of all the different kinds of people who get you foaming at the mouth, which of them is NOT a “traitor”? Your America is over, Carl (if it ever existed anywhere but your fevered imagination). Get used to it.

  • Joe

    Carl (@ 8:41) I think you genocidal label might apply to the abortion docs but it certainly does not apply to the women who kills one child. Your traitor label just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    But more to the point of the thread, I think what these people are saying is that decisions of life and death can be very messy, fact specific and unique. I am firmly pro-life but I also realize that it is possible (very unlikely but possible) that a family will be faced with a horrific situation in which a mother and an unborn child will both be in danger of dying and the family will have to make a very hard decision. I think this is what many of these people are expressing in their answers to the poll. I would suggest that any person who would face this kind of situation with a pre-determined answer as opposed to serious thought, prayer and consultation with their pastor needs to stop and think about their vocational obligations as a spouse and the parent of any other children.

  • SKPeterson

    Carl – The meteoric rise of your career in public relations is now assured.

  • Gary

    I think they’ll end up with something along the lines of pro-privacy or pro-personal responsibility.

  • kempin04

    For the record, I agree with Carl 8:41, that abortion is a genocide. Of course it is. And like all genocides, the people involved in it think they are justified and perhaps even think that they are doing good.

  • Carl Vehse

    Joe, the “genocidal murderer” label applies to all participants, legislators, judges, and supporters of abortion. A murderer is a still a murderer whether one or a million are murdered. These murders are genocidal because they are permitted, promoted, and committed as part of a nationally established agenda with the sole intent of killing a member of a specific and select group of innocent people – the unborn.

    And, Joe, the use of “abortion” here refers to elective abortion, not to the rare and unfortunate medical cases where the life of the mother is threatened, such as with an ectopic pregnancy. And in those rare cases, there may be some rare instances where medical opinions may vary on whether treating the mother requires an abortion or treatment that may increase risk to the child. But these rare of rare exceptions and decisions do not justify elective abortions.

    Treason is defined giving aid and comfort to the enemy. A U.S. citizen who attacks and destroys U.S. soldiers or critical equipment used to defend our country is rightly considered to be a traitor. And while it is improbably that the abortion of a single unborn child murders a person who someday would have been a general leading the U.S. to victory against an enemy, it is a reasonable view that the murderous attack of 50+ million people, who otherwise could be contributing today to the defense, education, and economy of the U.S., is rightly considered treason.

    Tom, are you capable of spewing something besides an ad hominem retort?

  • Joe

    Sorry Carl (@ 10:44) nothing in the article or the post suggests that the use of the word abortion here is limited to elective abortions. You don’t get to jump into a thread make an asinine comment and then redefine the terms in an effort avoid looking like an idiot. While I agree with you that not all of the people picking the “it depends” option are thinking of the scenario I described neither can you state none of them were.

  • Jon H.

    Since ‘pro life’ is simply a Republican brand name, it’s become meaningless. To be ‘pro life’ means to be against women’s health care, for assault weapons, for torture, for endless war, against funding to curb infant mortality, for unrestricted capitalism, for the death penalty, for health care only for those who can afford it, and against healthy environmental regulations. To the extent the term refers to abortion, it means putting women in jail, and doing nothing to curb the social and financial pressures that can lead to abortion.

  • Paul Reed

    Carl Vehse is right. And we don’t score any points by being courteous to abortionists and the women who have abortions. The pro-abortion side just mocks us even more. We wouldn’t treat a pedophile who molested children nicely or make exceptions or excuses, and yet pedophiles at least generally leave their victims alive. It does no good for us to call abortion “selfish”, as several posters have done. Duh. Lots of things are selfish and legal.

    And another thing, recognize that once you state that abortion is permissible under any circumstance, you’re made the pro-abort’s job significantly easier. The question is no longer “is abortion murder”, but rather “under what circumstances is abortion permissible”, which basically opens the door for everyone to interject his own opinion. This goes for such arguments as “life of the mother”. All pregnancies have risk. What is the threshold of risk one has to meet for the abortion to be okay? What is the woman threatens to commit suicide? We’d never say it’s okay for a parent to kill her *born* child to save herself.

  • sg

    Seems like you have summed up each lie and distortion of the actual positions into a banquet table of straw men.

    Elective abortion is not health care.

    The social and financial pressure that leads to abortion is extramarital sex. What do you want them to do about that?

    Women weren’t put in jail. Doctors were fined and lost their medical licenses.

    How much lower do you think infant mortality can go? Seriously, do you know how low it is now? The only other countries whose rates look better on paper are not counting the deaths of all of their premature babies.

    I won’t address all of your lies and distortions, but that is still what they are.

  • sg

    Just FYI, the US infant mortality rate is 0.7%. So, 99.3% of all kids make it through the first year of life. Do you believe that 99.3% of children are born healthy? If even 1% of kids are born unhealthy, then we are still saving a ton of kids who very easily could have died.

  • sg

    Birth Defects: Leading Cause of Infant Death
    The top 10 causes of infant deaths in 2006 were birth defects (5,819); low birth weight and prematurity (4,841); SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome] (2,323); maternal complications (1,683); accidents/unintentional injuries (1,147); complications of placenta, cord, and membranes (1,140); respiratory distress of newborn (825); bacterial sepsis of newborn (807); neonatal hemorrhage (618); and diseases of the circulatory system (543) (1).

    And what is the top risk for many of these? Maternal age. So actually, the gov’t which promotes delaying childbirth until more advanced age by subsidizing and promoting programs that encourage and facilitate delaying childbearing, is actually funding the actions which increase the risk of infant mortality.

  • The Jones

    When explaining the pro-life position, I’ve always said “You receive your inalienable human rights merely by being a human, not based on the choice or permission of someone else. A fetus is a human, and therefore has a right to life. In order to take that life, you need the same level of justification as any person walking along the street.”

    When you think about it like that, it is possible that an abortion would be acceptable and should therefore be legal (Think: life of the mother).

  • Tom Hering

    Sure Carl, I’m capable of it. But I figured the master of nasty names for people would appreciate the quality of my personal attack, even if it’s against him. Don’t you enjoy good examples of a skill you highly value?

  • Carl Vehse


    An ad hominem-ladened response typically indicates one’s lack of reasonable arguments or an abandoning of any rationality in discussing one’s position.

    Contrary to such a response from you, my statement, “the use of ‘abortion’ here refers to elective abortion” is true and valid. In the article, Planned Parenthood’s historical use of (and now its replacement search for) the phrase, “pro-choice” is the perfect label for “elective abortion.” There is little, if any, “choice” in the rare cases where medical treatment is needed to prevent the eminent death of a pregnant mother. And in a case where the mother may chose to risk her life (e.g., by avoiding radiation treatments to stop a malignant cancer) in order to allow her child to develop sufficiently to be born, the propaganda of Planned Parenthood is paltry.

  • Carl Vehse


    An ad hominem-ladened response typically indicates one’s lack of reasonable arguments or an abandoning of any rationality in discussing one’s position.

    Contrary to such a response from you, my statement, “the use of ‘abortion’ here refers to elective abortion” is true and valid. In the article, Planned Parenthood’s historical use of (and now its replacement search for) the phrase, “pro-choice” is the perfect label for “elective abortion.” There is little, if any, “choice” in the rare cases where medical treatment is needed to prevent the imminent death of a pregnant mother. And in a case where the mother may chose to risk her life (e.g., by avoiding radiation treatments to stop a malignant cancer) in order to allow her child to develop sufficiently to be born, the propaganda of Planned Parenthood is paltry.

  • SKPeterson

    Paul (@ 11:15) – You make an interesting point. However, what several here are arguing is not so much the dichotomy between abortion and infanticide, but those situations where there exists a horrible choice between saving the child or saving the mother. Now, I will concede this, where there is a living, breathing child separated at birth from the mother, the mother will often seek to put the child’s welfare ahead of her own; she will choose to lose her life, in order that the life of the child be spared. Socially, we expect this behavior to be the default. We are generally appalled at women who murder their own children. The difference we are then discussing is how do the circumstances of life in the womb differ substantially from life in the crib. Where many people want to carve out exceptions are for those extremely rare events that require harsh and messy decisions to be made. They do not need to have the threat of criminal persecution hanging over them.

    Now, to some extent, we could then argue from your point that under the notion that a woman who would kill her child is essentially self-disqualifying herself from motherhood that any woman who has an abortion is unfit to have children in the future. Why? She has shown that, when the child is an inconvenience, that she will choose to put her own needs first. We see that the state will intervene to remove children from the care (or rather due to the lack thereof) of the parents, should it be determined that there is a threat to the life or health of the child. States could then require abortion providers to submit a list of women who have had an abortion. In the future, any child born to a woman on this list, could then be subject to seizure by the state, as she has indicated by her previous behavior that she is emotionally incapable of caring for a child.

  • DonS

    I like the way The Jones @ 11:56 put it. You are a human, with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, at conception. However, just as there are certain, extremely extenuating circumstances where taking a life may be justified in post-birth life (eg self-defense), such may also be the case in pre-born life. With the exceptions of state actions involving capital punishment and certain wartime situations, these circumstances are always (at least in my, perhaps limited, imagination) going to involve having multiple lives at stake and taking action to save the most lives, or at least the most viable lives. They will never justify taking a life for convenience or because of difficult emotional circumstances.

  • Abby

    Anytime you hear the slippery slope verbage, “Yes, God, but . . .,” it is the devil talking. “Did God really say you will die?! You won’t die! You will become like God!”

    God is always direct. I have. I will. I did. Do this. Do not do that. I am. “You are mine.”
    Initially PP was called, “American Birth Control League.” They decided to change the name because the word “control” sounded too intimidating, threatening. “Planned Parenthood” sounds “nice,” and “helpful.”

    Margaret Sanger (founder of PP) used to have the guts to say what she meant. She used words like “race hygiene,” “mandatory sterilization,” “weeds.”

    She said, “The greatest sin is children. . .”
    . . . “Slavs, Latin, and Hebrew immigrants are human weeds . . . a deadweight of human waste . . . blacks, soldiers, and Jews are a menace to the race.” “Our objective is unlimited sexual gratification without the burden of unwanted children.” Or as one famous person who honestly said, “I don’t want my daughter punished with a baby.”

    Margaret Sanger’s attempt to wipe out the blacks:

    Listen to her in the 3 parts of, “Margaret Sangar, Eugenicist” with Mike Wallace interviewing. (Eugenics is the applied science of the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population, usually a human population.[2][3] It is a social philosophy which advocates for the improvement of human hereditary traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of more desired people and traits, and the reduction of reproduction of less desired people and traits.[4] (

    “Imagine” if Obama were pro-life:

    This is better. Abortion is NOT “birth control.” :

    Direct, “harsh” language? The church fathers called a “spade a spade” regarding abortion. One saying, “women who induce abortions are murderers.” :

  • fjsteve

    Saying one is “pro-whatever the situation is” is so vague as to be a distinction without a difference. I’m generally pro-life but I believe an abortion would be the lesser of evils in a life-threatening situation for the mother. So, I guess I’m also pro-whatever the situation is.

  • fjsteve

    Darn, living on the west coast means all the good points are made before I even wake up.

  • fjsteve

    Well said. There’s a huge difference between being anti-woman and anti-abortion-for-convenience.

  • fjsteve

    Did Tom just use the reply button? Say it isn’t so Tom!

  • Carl Vehse

    DonS: However, just as there are certain, extremely extenuating circumstances where taking a life may be justified in post-birth life (eg self-defense), such may also be the case in pre-born life.

    Yes, such may also be the case in pre-born human! life – but how often have we seen or read news reports about unborn infants as fleeing felons or attempting to commit armed robberies, car-jackings, air hi-jackings, home break-ins, armed assault, rape, assassinations, lynchings, kidnappings, terrorism,… or abortions of other unborn children.

    These are as unbelievable as a domestic terrorist organization, Planned Parenthood, claiming “pro-life” is unacceptable to Americans.

  • fjsteve

    Wow! You called that one. That post was so over-the-top, I thought Jon was being sarcastic. Guess not.

  • Joe

    Carl – neither calling your comment asinine nor stating that you are an idiot for making the comment is an ad hominem attack. You have it presciently backwards. Ad hominem attack is the attempt to discrete the point on the basis of a personal attack. My point is not that we should not listen to you because you are an idiot; it is that your comment displays your idiocy. I do not claim the man discredits the argument; rather, the argument discredits the man.

    Also, you are not correct your attempt define what Planed Parenthood means by “pro choice.” Planed Parenthood wants abortions any and all reasons which would include life of the mother. But even more to the point, the use of the term is not defined by PP in this case because the article is about people’s responses to a survey. Thus, the operational definition of abortion in this case is defined by the respondents, not PP. Nothing in the responses demonstrates that those who responded to the survey were only concerned with elective abortions.

  • Carl Vehse

    fjsteve says: Saying one is “pro-whatever the situation is” is so vague as to be a distinction without a difference.

    Yes, it is vague, fjsteve. But is it as vague as the claim, “I’m generally pro-life”? Is “Saying one is pro-whatever the situation is” as vague a moral stand as saying, “So, I guess I’m also pro-whatever the situation is”?

  • tODD

    I’m sorry, I … Sorry, but is Carl V… is Carl Vehse lecturing people about being “reasonable”, and likewise decrying the use of pejorative labels? Hmm. Hmmmm. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Hmmmmm. Hm. Oh, that’s good. That’s good!

  • Hanni

    Probably not apropos to the post, but I have wondered why Roe vs. Wade was even brought to the Supreme Court. What constitutional point was involved in this point of law, whatever. I thought only problems that could be resolved by constitutional law were accepted. What was the result, their brief or something. I could look this up, but I respect my learned colleagues here to know all there is to know about this.

  • tODD

    Kempin (@10:17 am), while I don’t expect anything from Vehse (other than the need to wipe spittle off my monitor when he’s done), I do expect better from you:

    For the record, I agree with Carl 8:41, that abortion is a genocide. Of course it is.

    Look, if you want to claim that words have no meaning, if you want to merely use words because they convey emotional power that you wish to wield, and just have the word mean what you say it means, then yes, by all means, claim that abortion is genocide.

    But if words mean something, then no, it’s not true that abortion is genocide, no matter how terrible and sinful both may be.

    As a starting point, let’s see how the word “genocide” has been used, according to the dictionaries:

    the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group (Merriam-Webster)

    The deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group. (OED)

    The unborn are not racial, political, cultural, ethnic, or national in any sense I can think of. Nor is abortion systematic. It is undertaken at the personal level, not across the system. The animus is that a mother wishes to kill her baby, not that a group in power wishes that all women would kill their babies.

    Words mean things. Let’s not destroy that fairly foundational premise (for Christians) in an attempt to convey our outrage to others.

  • Carl Vehse

    Thanks, Joe (1:49pm), for re-affirming the first point in my 12:17pm post.

    tODD, even if your 2:06pm ad hominem comment were true, which it isn’t, it’s still a tu quoque fallacy. But at least you find it amusing. And in that, we can all find amusement.

    kempin04, it goes without saying that tODD’s comments (2:19pm) have essentially no credibility. However, you may be interested in a good explanation by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform on “Why Abortion is Genocide.”

  • tODD

    Joe’s attempt (@1:49 pm) notwithstanding, you really do need to learn what the ad hominem fallacy entails, Vehse. Or, for that matter, the tu quoque fallacy.

    Pointing out that it is ludicrous for you, of all people, to encourage people to be “reasonable” and not merely attack the man, is, yes, a case of tu quoque. It is not, however, an example of the tu quoque fallacy, precisely because I am not saying that it is wrong to be reasonable, etc. I am pointing out your hypocrisy, of course, but I am not saying that this hypocrisy discredits your thesis. I’m just saying it makes you a hypocrite. And a ridiculous one, at that.

    Same thing with ad hominem. Yes, my comments were directed to you, the person. But they did not claim, for example, that “anything said by Carl Vehse is, ipso facto, wrong”. The odds are exceedingly good on that statement, but I wouldn’t endorse it completely, because on rare occasions, you say something that is reasonable — even something I agree with. (Today is not your day, however.)

    No, a fine example of the ad hominem fallacy can be found in your own comment to Kempin:

    it goes without saying that tODD’s comments (2:19pm) have essentially no credibility.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

  • fjsteve

    Carl @1:43pm: Saying I’m generally pro-life is vague without qualification, yes. But it’s not as vague as saying I’m pro-whatever the the situation is, without qualification. That was my whole point. The devil is in the details, is it not? I don’t think qualifying my position by saying abortion is an acceptable option when the life of a mother is threatened makes me any less pro-life. Just like someone saying they don’t believe in abortion as a means of gender-selection but believes it should be available on-demand, makes them any less pro-choice.

  • Abby

    Hanni, @216 : “Roe v. Wade was passed based on the “right to privacy” –that the defamation law can make one legally liable for revealing something that should not be revealed.” So, if you are pregnant and are beginning to show, and you do not want anyone to know “based on your right to privacy,” you can get an abortion.”

    “According to the “functional definiton of human life” — you’re not human unless you can “do” something — this has never been a Biblical definition . . .”

    “The value of human life in society is determined by how the weak are treated — not the rich and powerful — but the weak. . . The reason the LCMS is so dead set against abortion is because they still believe in Scripture.”

    All above quotes are from John Warwick Montgomery.

  • Carl Vehse

    it goes without saying that tODD’s comments (2:19pm) have essentially no credibility.

    tODD @3:12pm: “Ironic, isn’t it?”

    No. More like repetitious.

  • Carl Vehse

    fjsteve 23:20pm: But it’s not as vague as saying I’m pro-whatever the the situation is, without qualification. That was my whole point.

    Your previous qualification for “I’m also pro-whatever the situation is” was “I guess.”

    I guess I’m a Nobel laureate.

  • fjsteve

    Carl, I guess I don’t get your point. The two are not analogous. There’s no reasonable justification to say you’re a Nobel laureate regardless of the qualifications.

  • kempin04

    tODD, 2:19, (When are we getting the comment numbers, by the way?)

    I disagree. I believe that aborted children are indeed a class–certainly a political if not a cultural group. I grant that this assignation is passive rather than active. Still, aborted children share a status in common with one another that they are helpless to control, just as children of a particular race share a status that they do not control. Aborted children are targeted not because of race or creed, but because of their status being both helpless and inconvenient to someone with power.

    Furthermore, I believe that abortion IS systematic. Frankly I am surprised you would argue that one. I would be willing to concede the first point, if pressed, but abortion is absolutely a political movement with a particular goal. As some of the Margaret Sanger quotes cited earlier verify, abortion was set forth precisely as a way to exterminate human life in a systematic way. It has not occurred spontaneously. Abortion has spread because it has been pushed. I’m sure you would not argue that the Jewish holocaust was not genocide because a neighbor, on a personal level, turned them in, or because the guard, on a personal level, decided to drop the cannister. Neither do I consider the personal decision of the mother to be in isolation from the system.

    I certainly grant that it is an unconventional use of “genocide” and therefore arguable, but I don’t think is quite as ridiculous as you assert.

  • Cincinnatus

    This is silly, tODD. Aside from the semantic pedantry you display, there is such a thing in discourse, political or otherwise, as the metaphor. I don’t tend to assert that abortion is genocide, but I can easily see the rhetorical and logical connection: legalized abortion, via a system of legal precedents, institutionalized clinics, directional counseling, etc., is akin to genocide. It would be a bit silly to argue otherwise, as you do: “Yeah, but the 1.3 millions fetuses killed every year aren’t an ethnic group, so technically…”

    Ok, but, um, you seem to be missing the point. Legalized, institutionalized abortion isn’t genocidal, pro-lifers claim, because infants are a political or ethnic group, but because abortion kills 1.3 million infants annually. That said, Cambodia’s genocide targeted intellectuals. How are intellectual any more a cultural group than infants (except for the fact that legalized abortion doesn’t attempt to exterminate all fetuses)?

    Again, it’s not language I tend to use, but I have no problem in certain contexts with those who compare abortion to genocide. The (arguable) murder of 1.3 million human lives each year is, well, positively genocidal!

  • tODD

    Cincinnatus (@7:03 pm; please stop nesting your comments), I’ll cop to pedantry, but no, these claims of “genocide” are not being done as metaphors.

    Imagine if I decried a famous writer as “racist” for his atheist writings that attack Christians. “How is that ‘racist’?” you might reasonably ask. “I meant metaphorically?” I would lamely retort. Come on.

    And, yes, there are a lot of abortions. It’s awful, I agree. But the number isn’t what makes something genocide or not. I mean, hundreds of thousands of Japanese were killed in a matter of a few days in 1945, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t genocide, either. I’m even pretty sure you’d get annoyed by people making such a claim.

    How are intellectual any more a cultural group than infants…

    Um, really? You’ll forgive me for resorting again to the dictionary here, but I think it’s clear which of the two (intellectuals vs. infants) has more, say, shared attitudes, values, goals, conventions, and practices. No?

    Again, I understand the desire to use language like “genocide”, to claim its rhetorical power to one’s advantage. I just think it’s incorrect and/or disingenuous.

  • tODD

    Kempin (@4:59 pm):

    abortion is absolutely a political movement with a particular goal

    Yes, but that goal is not systematic extinction. It is the right to be able to murder one’s own baby (and, notably, not others’).

    As some of the Margaret Sanger quotes cited earlier verify, abortion was set forth precisely as a way to exterminate human life in a systematic way.

    Again, what about this is “systematic”? You seem to be using that term as if it only meant “mildly popular”. You also seem to think that abortion “set forth” with Margaret Sanger, even though it’s been around quite a bit longer than that.

    Look, if Sanger’s vision had come to fruition, if abortion were being used to systematically murder particular groups of people, then of course it would be a genocide. But that’s not what’s happening. Mothers aren’t getting abortions because their baby is “a menace to the race”, they’re doing so because they think the baby is a menace to them and their way of life. Find some women who’ve had abortions, and ask them if they got them because Margaret Sanger wanted them to.

  • trotk

    For what its worth, genocide is a mess of a word etymologically. The man who coined it didn’t know his Latin (or Greek). If it is to mean the destruction of a race or ethnic group, as is usually intended, it should be genticide, which really shouldn’t be used for abortion. Genicide is properly the destruction of a kind, class, or species, and thus could be used for abortion. Genocide is a mess, combining Greek and Latin elements, but should mean the same thing as genicide.
    None of this has any bearing on how it is used now, though. It is just trivia.

  • Kempin04


    I understand you a bit more in light of your comment at 7:41. I am not trying to coopt the word “genocide” for rhetorical impact. It just seems appropriate to describe a breathtakingly large program of human destruction that targets a particular group because of a particular ideology. Perhaps it is not a proper use of the word, but if so it may be because there IS no word that can encompass the scale of slaughter.

    Maybe I should have used “Man Caused Disaster.”

  • Abby

    “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race. Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need . . . we must prevent multiplication of this bad stock.”

    “Women must have the right to live . . . to love . . . to be lazy . . . to be an unmarried mother . . . to create . . . to destroy . . . The marriage bed is the most degenerative influence in the social order . . . The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

    “Forced sterilization of minority women only stopped in 1972. Several hundred thousand minority women were forcibly sterilized against their will under the Bull v. Bell Supreme Court decision of 1929. One of the Supreme Court justices famously said, ‘Three generations of imbeciles is enough.’”

    “The Negro Project was specifically targeted by having someone go through the South and convince negro women not to have children.”

    Instead of “genocide” being the word to use, Margaret’s own word “eugenic” is a better description of what she aspired to accomplish.

    Todd, most modern women aren’t having abortions because she told them to. They don’t even remember her or know her name or know that she is the founder of “Planned Parenthood.” But she was the founder and set all this in motion. She was put in prison 7 or 8 times for her work, making her out to be a martyr. Persecution tends to make things grow faster and stronger. I say this at great risk to myself: If anyone should have been put out of their misery it should have been her.

    China practices forced abortions, limiting the number of children per family as well as limiting the number of female babies.

    Here is a modern woman who supports Planned Parenthood and admires Margaret Sanger.

    Planned Parenthood has tentacles deep into U.S. Government funding and now through the new Obamacare program which requires insurance companies to pay for abortions.

    Why do we hate children? Below is Russell Moore’s idea:
    “Podhoretz noted the heightened iniquity of child sacrifice in the Hebrew Scriptures’ denunciation of the god Moloch. Moloch, of course, was a blood-thirsty deity who demanded his followers to pour out the lives of their children. The valley of this atrocity was called Gehenna. Jesus pointed to Gehenna when he told us about hell.

    Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.

    There are more factors at work here than just impersonal psychology and sociology. “The course of this world,” we’re told, is driven along by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). And behind all of that is a bloody skirmish. Satan is, Jesus tells us, a “murderer from the beginning” because he hates life itself. And he hates the life of children, particularly, because they picture something true about Jesus of Nazareth.

    Satan hates children because he hates Jesus. When evil destroys “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable among us, it destroys a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes the head of our reptilian overlord (Gen. 3:15). The demonic powers know that the human race is saved, and they’re vanquished, by a child born of woman (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15). And so they hate the children who bear his nature.

    Violence against children is also peculiarly satanic because it destroys the very picture of newness of life and dependent trust that characterizes life in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:4). Children are a blessing, and that enrages the horrifying nature of those who seek only to kill and to destroy (Jn. 10:10).

    The satanic powers want the kingdoms of the universe, and a child uproots their reign.”

    Abortion is pure evil. I like Dr. Veith’s choice of descriptive words: “pro-life vs. pro-death.” Also, don’t forget euthanasia is attached to all of this too.

  • Paul Reed

    In just the US, there are over 800,000 babies being slaughtered per year. This is not counting the ones killed by means such as Plan B and the birth control pill, which would push the figure much higher. The world wide figure is about 44 million a year. This is an equivalent of the Jewish Holocaust every 50 days. And we’ve got a poster on here bogging down the conversation about the semantics of the word “genocide”.

  • tODD

    Paul Reed (@10:12 pm), I see. Explain to me again how sloppy language usage will reverse or undo these millions of deaths again.

    And have all words lost their meaning, or is it just the ones you want to use to great effect? If the latter, you will necessarily undermine the effect you wish to leverage by so watering it down. If the former, then I suggest you purple monkey dishwasher.

  • Becky F.

    I suppose the “depends on the situation” depends on if we consider treatment for an ectopic pregnancy an abortion. Because that is legitimate life-of-the-mother-is-in-jeopardy.

  • sg

    Treatment for tubal pregnancy is not abortion because the embryo has no chance for survival. Either the condition can be treated such that the mother will survive, or they will both die. Either way, the baby dies and the death is long before birth.

    There would be no anti abortion movement if elective abortion were illegal and the only abortions done were in such very rare and very serious situations. I say that because abortion in those cases was never prosecuted, and there was no opposition to them because there was no real choice as someone earlier noted.

  • Paul Reed


    “the embryo has no chance for survival”
    Wrong. You can look up cases of babies surviving an ectopic pregnancy. And even if the chances are zero, would you ever kill one of your born children to save your own life? One last question: What if a girl comes in and says she will commit suicide if she’s not allowed to have an abortion? Either way, the baby dies, so might as well let the mother have an abortion, right?

    “Treatment for tubal pregnancy is not abortion”
    Does this statement sum up the the postmodernist zeitgeist or what?

  • sg

    My statement was regarding tubal pregnancies, not ectopic, which is why I said tubal. Anyway, the examples of babies surviving ectopic pregnancies were situations where they did not know it was ectopic. Obviously they didn’t check for it because it is so freakishly rare. So, no, they would not have aborted due to a condition they weren’t even aware of.

  • sg

    As for those threatening suicide, why not treat them like anyone else threatening suicide? What other demands shall we submit to when people threaten suicide? How about a woman who threatens suicide if she doesn’t get more alimony? I mean, that is only money, not someone’s life, after all.

  • tODD

    Paul (@9:54 am), you appear to be driven more by an anti-abortion animus than a pro-life one. You’re coming up with some pretty ridiculous hypotheticals (e.g., the suicidal girl). You also asked:

    would you ever kill one of your born children to save your own life?

    But in what situation (other than the one we’re discussing) would that scenario occur? I can’t think of one. Pregnancy is a pretty unique situation, whereby the life of one human truly depends on the life of another.

    The only similar situation I can imagine is one involving a particular type of conjoined twins. Of course, in most cases, the solution would be to let the twins continue to live conjoined, but let’s assume that for some reason, their lives were threatened if they remained conjoined (and note that this has now, as far as I know, left reality and entered into conjecture). To use your argument here, we would simply have to let them both die. It’s a pat answer, and there you go. But I’m not sure it’s the pro-life answer. Would it be absolutely heartbreaking to have to choose to let one live and the other die? Of course. Would it require an awful lot of prayer, talking with your pastor, and medical consultations to make sure the doctors were as sure as they could be? Yes. But I wouldn’t condemn the parents that made such a choice.

    Nor would I condemn the mother who made an analagous choice with regard to pregnancy. Because, again, the pro-life choice is to preserve life, not merely to oppose abortion. Doubtless, many mothers would choose to do whatever they could to let their baby live, even sacrificing their own lives. But others might conclude differently, again based on the available data.

  • Abby

    “. . . connexion between the words for “womb” and “mercy” in several languages. In Hebrew the word for both is racham. The German Barmherzigkeit (mercy) literally means “womb-heartedness.” I understand that the same is true in the case of the related Dutch language. Perhaps the reason for this odd linguistic link is that nothing expresses compassion better than the tender solicitude which expectant mothers feel for their pre-born babies. No asylum on earth should be safer or more inviolate than that sacred refuge which nurtures the developing baby beneath its mother’s heart for the first nine months of its life. To invade and destroy that is to destroy human mercy at its very source. It is part and parcel of the progressive brutalisation of human life, documented daily in the news media.”

  • Abby

    “But others might conclude differently, again based on the available data.” There would be no wrong in that. Abortion is not the unforgivable sin.

    But how many abortion decisions are based on nothing other than misunderstanding God’s Word and shame?
    “A good friend and colleague of mine in Australia had opened a pregnancy crisis centre in Adelaide. One day a fifteen-year old girl came in, thinking she could get an abortion there. My friend showed her the ghastly reality of abortion, and she decided to keep her baby. A few days later her enraged father came in, fulminating: “I am an elder at such-and-such a church. Don’t you realise how I shall be disgraced if she has this illegitimate child? How dare you tell her not to have an abortion?” It would be difficult to imagine a more repulsive instance of unmerciful Pharisaic cruelty! How can a father be so obsessed with appearances as to wish to burden his own daughter’s soul with the sin of murder? Yet such is the oppressive power of the false god of Respectability, which disfigures so much of our “church”-culture!” (My above quote at 1:16 should have included this reference.)

  • Abby

    “The Supreme Court decision of 1973 is just as wrong as the Dred Scott ruling of 1857, which held that slaves were property and not “persons” under the law! It took a Civil War to reverse that! The constitutional status of the unborn to-day is completely analogous. The moral and legal absurdity of our present situation is that while the corporations which slaughter the unborn for profit have full constitutional protection as (corporate) “persons” in law, their genuinely human victims do not! We cannot rest until this obscenity is reversed. ”

  • Abby

    As Protestants, we are even MORE conservative than the Roman Catholics when defining when the embryo becomes “human.”

    ” . . . reformers [Luther, Melachthon, and Calvin are meant] insisted upon the full humanity of the fetus from the time of conception. . . The major reformers, then, were rigorously opposed to abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Moreover, they had significantly enhanced the fetal status for reasons more basically doctrinal than for ethical reasons against abortion. Regarding fetal status, they were more conservative than the sixteenth-century Roman Catholic Church, which still maintained the Septuagint’s distinction between the “unformed” an the “formed” fetus, and with it a consequent distinction in the gravity of abortion, depending upon its timing (1:14).”

  • helen

    “…abortion is a genocide”…

    If you will accept “genocide” as the extermination of a racial group… abortion is voluntary genocide.
    European Caucasians are not reproducing at a level that will enable them to continue to exist.
    They are being replaced by the Turks and others they once fought to keep out of Europe.
    American Caucasians are approaching the same levels of non-reproduction, if we haven’t already arrived.
    We are being replaced by anyone who wants to risk crossing the Rio Grande, (or traveling across the Pacific in a cargo container). It may not be consciously planned genocide but the results will be the same.

    The really ironic part is that the “whites” Margaret Sanger sought to preserve are killing themselves off, while the minorities she despised are multiplying!
    And it’s all carefully taught to your children in the public schools, with scarce a murmur from most parents!

  • tODD

    Helen (@2:57 pm), “voluntary genocide”? If it’s voluntary, it isn’t exactly systematic, is it? If it’s not systematic, then it’s not genocide. Might as well label all suicides as genocide, too.

    The really ironic part is that the “whites” Margaret Sanger sought to preserve are killing themselves off, while the minorities she despised are multiplying!

    Yeah, except, not. At least if you care at all for facts. The abortion rate for black women was almost four times higher than the one for white women in 2007.

    I mean, I respect your fear of non-white people taking over and ruining America and all*, but do try to keep it mildly factual, will you?

    *Just kidding.

  • sg

    Blacks whose grandparents were born here do not have fertility rates above replacement. Nor do any other races or groups whose grandparents were born here. Immigrants have higher fertility only in the first couple generations. So, its all down hill except for Mormons, Orthodox Jews and Amish, all of which (with a very few exceptions) are small subgroups of whites. It is true that immigrants and their children account for all of our population growth, and much of our growing income inequality, but how else can you keep the economy growing? Will a shrinking population lead to economic growth? I mean the average US household is only 2.7 people. How much more atomized and higher consuming can we get? One person per house? Is that what we want to drive our consumption based economy?

  • WebMonk

    sg, might I say that is a win of a statement: “My statement was regarding tubal pregnancies, not ectopic, which is why I said tubal.”

    Alas poor Readingcomprehension. I knew him well.

    (and yes, I know that’s a misquote of Shakespeare)

  • Paul Reed

    @Todd (1:09 pm)
    @Sg (somewhere else)

    You bring up a scenario of conjoined twins and either one or both will die. The answer here however, is still clear. You do NOT have the right to kill one of those children. I could answer this by appealing to God’s law, but realizing this has little or no effect in a post-Christian culture, I’ll try another line of reasoning. It appears that you and SG want to go back to a pre-Roe-vs-Wade America. But it was this climate that gave birth to a post-roe-vs-wade America. Prior to the SCOTUS decision, abortion is technically illegal in many states, but there are exceptions, and generally women who get abortions are immune from the law. So you get people who start asking “if women should be immune from going to unlicensed clinics, why shouldn’t they be immune from going to clean, safe, licensed clinics?”

    And you want your exceptions for killing babies — but don’t be surprised when other people have more exceptions they want added to the list. There’s a lot of room to disagree on the subject of how bad a pregnancy will be for the woman. And people can use the life or death argument easier than you think. For example, pro-abortion folks will claim that stem cell research from aborted fetuses offers a promise of many medical cures. Can we say for certainty they are wrong? What if one of those cures ends up saving far more many lives than the number of babies aborted to get the cure? These situation-ethics “pro-whatever-the-situation-is” is a recipe for a postmodernist disaster.

  • tODD

    Paul (@5:58 pm), again, your position is anti-abortion, not pro-life. Because, according to your reasoning, in a situation where you can either save one or zero lives (out of two), you would require people to always go the latter route. You would preclude the saving of a life. That’s not pro-life.

    It appears that you and SG want to go back to a pre-Roe-vs-Wade America. But it was this climate that gave birth to a post-roe-vs-wade America.

    Does that make sense to you? Because it doesn’t to me, at all.

    For example, pro-abortion folks will claim that stem cell research from aborted fetuses offers a promise of many medical cures.

    If you can’t distinguish between (1) a situation in which you’re trying to save at least one person given that both are likely to die and (2) a situation in which an otherwise healthy person is murdered in order to potentially provide help to some hypothetical others … you might want to think things over some more.

    Again, imagine that you are only able to drag 200 pounds, given your strength. Now imagine that there are two 200-pound people inside a burning building. They are handcuffed together. You cannot drag them together, as they are too heavy for you. There is a set of bolt-cutters in the room, however. It would be possible to cut the handcuffs and drag out one person to safety. However, if you did that, before you had a chance to rush back in and save the other one, the building would collapse, killing the one left behind.

    Myself, I would try to save one of them, knowing full well that I would be choosing for the other person to die. You would, according to your reasoning here, condemn me for this action, preferring to wash your hands of the issue and let them both burn to death. You wouldn’t have saved anyone, but at least no one could accuse you of being “postmodern”, even if you aren’t quite sure what that word means. Congratulations.

  • Paul Reed

    hmmm…well there are a couple of issues I had with your analogy:

    1) In abortion, you directly kill the other person. It would be more fitting if you said you chopped the other person’s arm off instead of the cutting the handcuffs (maybe because the handcuffs were too strong to be cut by the tool). Oh, and you did this without the other person’s consent too.
    2) You aren’t completely positive that the other person will die. So you have to know that there exists a possibility that both people could have lived.
    3) In the analogy, you are a fireman saving somebody else. In abortion, the mother is killing somebody to save HERSELF.
    4) The person you are killing is your own child, not a stranger.
    5) The situation is partially of your own making. The mother is the one who got pregnant, so the baby would never be in this dependent position if not for her.

  • tODD

    Paul (@9:34 pm), have you yet noticed how your rigid proscriptions still aren’t actually geared towards preserving the most lives, even in the narrowly defined scenario of mother and child?

    You are right that one can’t be “completely positive” whether someone will live or die. That uncertainty is exactly why I’m not going to give a simplistic answer in the difficult situations we’re talking about — the real (if rare) ones, that is, not the hypothetical ones both of us have constructed.

    From what I’ve read, the odds of a mother and baby surviving the birth of an ectopic pregnancy are 3,000,000-to-1. You’re literally several times more likely to be struck by lightning in any given year.

    Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” It sounds like sacrifice is exactly what you’re demanding of mothers.

  • Abby

    “Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

    I Love That! Unfortunately, pro-abortionists — pro-choicers — pro-deathers — Don’t Get It!!!

  • Abby

    “News that Planned Parenthood is planning to abandon the old familiar serviceable term “pro-choice” has ruffled feathers and awakened a certain amount of predictable feminist grumbling, including some by Slate’s own Amanda Marcotte, who argues that the term was useful.

    However, this decisive public shift in rhetoric has been a long time coming. Many critics have complained about the inadequacy of feminist language surrounding the issue of abortion. Nearly 20 years ago, Naomi Wolf wrote a bold and thought-provoking piece in the New Republic claiming that the movement’s rhetoric and attitude toward abortion did not take into account the emotional and moral complexities of real abortions.

    As someone unwavering in my support of women’s right to legal abortion I think it is clear that, from the beginning, the war of words was lost: The term “pro-choice” is far less charismatic, less uplifting, less capacious than the term “pro-life.” Who does not want to be arguing in favor of life? (It is interesting to note that polls have found that significant numbers of people identifying as pro-life are in fact in favor of legal abortions; such is the irrational magnetism of the term.) “Choice” sounds, in comparison, cool, flippant, casual, bourgeois. “Choice” belongs to realms like whether to have a tuna sandwich or a Caesar salad for lunch; it does not naturally evoke the gravity of the awe-inspiring issues at stake.

    But how should the movement better express the crucial and complicated idea of a woman’s right to control her own body? I think “pro-freedom” would be better, closer to what we mean, though still not as transcendent a term as “pro-life.” (It would be excellent if Planned Parenthood somehow had the power to obliterate the term “pro-life” as well.) “Freedom” is at least a more expansive word than “choice,” with glimmers of promise, of possibility, of amber waves of grain; it has a patriotic undertone that might appeal to those confused people who do believe in at least a limited right to abortion but won’t call themselves “pro-choice,” because “choice” seems to belong to a pampered elite.

    Good Riddance, “Pro-Choice”
    Planned Parenthood abandons the bourgeois term. How about calling it “pro-freedom”?
    Katie Roiphe
    Wednesday, January 16, 2013”

    There you go — slippery slope. They would actually like to “have” the term pro-life!

  • Abby

    I mean,t that they want words to sound like the gift of “abortion” is “heaven-sent!”

  • Abby

    Here’s one for eugenics: “Too stupid to live” (still alive among the younger generation)