Notice how those who believe in abortion don’t say that they believe in abortion. They are “pro-choice.” But that term has become somewhat outdated. Now believing that it is justified to kill an unborn child is called advocating “reproductive rights.” And being in favor of “women’s health.”
Do you see what is happening? Such language frames the issue and twists the argument. If “women’s health” is used as a synonym for abortion, to oppose abortion is to oppose “women’s health.”
These are all “euphemisms,” covering up something bad in words that sound good. And if you think with the euphemisms, you will accept the bad meaning, thanks to the positive packaging (“choice,” “rights,” “women’s health”).
Doesn’t the other side do this too? Well, trying to persuade people of your position requires rhetorical language, but this can be done honestly. To call opposition to abortion being “pro-life” is not a euphemism. You aren’t trying to cover up saving the life of the baby. That is the nature of your cause. To call abortion “murder” does not make it sound better. Using words that conjure up specific images and associations may be rhetorical–and opponents can deny that they apply–but it isn’t covering up the reality, as euphemism and propaganda do.
The reality is that one’s choice of language is essential in the way we think about things and in the way we communicate with other people and try to win them over to our side.Here is an essay that warns pro-lifers (or, those who oppose abortion) from unwittingly adopting “pro-choice” (or, pro-abortion) language (words like “mommy-to-be,” or “daddy-to-be”).
From Aaron Wilson, The Pro-Choice Language Pro-Lifers Need to Drop:
“Parent-to-be” language for expectant families is inconsistent with a worldview that seeks to honor life before birth.
Logic states if a pregnant woman is a “mommy-to-be,” what she is carrying must be a “child-to-be.” And if this were the case, why would pro-lifers be surprised when parents consider aborting someone they’ve been told isn’t yet a person?
Sadly, a “parent-to-be” label communicates that parenthood, and thus personhood, isn’t achieved until after a child’s birth. This message runs counter to a biblically informed ethic that claims life begins at fertilization—a belief grounded in passages such as Psalm 51:5, Isaiah 44:2, Psalm 139:13-14, and Luke 1:41, 44.
Since “mommy-to-be” and “daddy-to-be” language sends a mixed message to the world, those who believe life begins at fertilization may want to retire the terminology. This is especially true considering the ambiguity that overshadows some Americans’ claim to be pro-life.
Photo by AFGE, 10th Annual Moral March on Raleigh, via Flickr, Creative Commons License
HT: Paul McCain