Stop Using The Words “Abortion” and “Choice”

Onomasiology (n) - the study of choosing words to best express a concept.

The left has proven far more adept than the right at renaming unpopular ideas to make them palatable in conversation. Racial quotas become “Affirmative Action.” Terrorism becomes “man-caused disaster.” Contraception becomes “women’s health issue.”  

To kill one’s child becomes “choice” or “abort.” 

The left’s rule of rhetoric can be thusly stated: When specifics are uncomfortable, hide them within generalities. The goal is misdirection. The listener’s brain does not have to process slicing a baby into pieces to kill her, having it replaced instead with visions of parents making an unspecified choice.

Shame on the rest of us for playing along. 

The English language prefers the specific to the general. This is true in creative and technical writing. In law, specific terms are deemed controlling over general terms. Only in the sophistry of politics can horrid images be hidden behind flowers and the speaker applauded for facing the issue and not avoiding it.

The word “abort” standing alone does not describe the procedure of killing your daughter. A mission can be aborted. A game can be aborted. The word abortion has a homonymic history of also meaning a physical deformity. “Abortion” is an inappropriate descriptor of tearing your son limb from limb until he dies. So why use that word, other than to avoid the real topic?

“Choice” is by far the heavyweight champion of political diversion. How the rest of us let it come so far in the lexicon of debate escapes me. The word choice is so broad it involves itself in the most mundane of daily forks in the road – boxers or briefs; work or play; shaken or stirred. Choice itself is never a problem. What specifically is being chosen – killing an innocent child – is the problem. No one is anti-choice as a general principle. We should all be anti-that choice specifically.

Words mean things, and it’s time for the political right to enlist the correct words. We can’t let the left pretend there is a polite way of talking about this. Never again should we allow in conversation the concept of violently killing a baby to be represented by intentional distractions like ‘choice’ and ‘abortion.’

It’s time to “stop and challenge.” Stop the conversation and challenge the misnomer. Don’t continue the conversation without this fight. When one mentions the “right to choose” ask them, “Choose what?” The initial response may be that you are taking the conversations off the rails or being facetious. Continue. Insist upon a response. The agitated answer you will get is, “Choose an abortion.” Respond that it’s too broad a term because a mission or a game can be aborted. Then insist, “Describe what you are choosing to do so I know exactly what you are talking about.” Make them say it.

This is the place in the conversation where you can take control of the description, because proponents of child killing will never, ever, describe it. They can’t face what they favor. You can then describe the insertion of a saw into the womb to cut a baby to pieces. They won’t.

You will be accused of anything from being intentionally inflammatory to crude and inappropriate (particularly if you are at a dinner table). This is what is most perplexing about the left: They can’t bear to hear someone speak of stabbing a child to death but actually letting people do it doesn’t bother them.

If the left is going to allow the mass killing of innocent children, make them say it.

  1. Richard

    I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus. But i do think the fetus vs. unborn child word game plays more in the pro-life side’s favor. 

  2. Scott R

    What’s the strategy when they call it “an operation” instead. That’s the new one apparently.

    Somebody call onomasialogist.

  3. Edward Smith

    A brave and powerful Post, Tommy.  I agree wholeheartedly.

  4. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus. But i do think the fetus vs. unborn child word game plays more in the pro-life side’s favor.  · 3 minutes ago

    Agreed and let’s challenge that too.  Always call the child a child.

  5. Scott R
    Tommy De Seno

    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus. But i do think the fetus vs. unborn child word game plays more in the pro-life side’s favor.  · 3 minutes ago

    Agreed and let’s challenge that too.  Always call the child a child. · 2 minutes ago

    Here the question would be “Do you believe that the vagina has magical powers?” — that is, does the birth canal magically bestow human life upon the creature as it passses through?

    There’s never a good answer for that one, certainly not a “scientific” one, which is always so important to liberals, don’t you know.

  6. Richard
    Scott [roy-sir]

    Tommy De Seno

    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus. But i do think the fetus vs. unborn child word game plays more in the pro-life side’s favor.  · 3 minutes ago

    Agreed and let’s challenge that too.  Always call the child a child. · 2 minutes ago

    Here the question would be “Do you believe that the vagina has magical powers?” — that is, does the birth canal magically bestow human life upon the creature as it passses through?

    There’s never a good answer for that one, certainly not a “scientific” one, which is always so important to liberals, don’t you know. · 0 minutes ago

    I guess I would be in trouble, I was delivered via C-section due to my large head. 

  7. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Scott [roy-sir]

    Tommy De Seno

    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus. But i do think the fetus vs. unborn child word game plays more in the pro-life side’s favor.  · 3 minutes ago

    Agreed and let’s challenge that too.  Always call the child a child. · 2 minutes ago

    Here the question would be “Do you believe that the vagina has magical powers?” — that is, does the birth canal magically bestow human life upon the creature as it passses through?

    There’s never a good answer for that one, certainly not a “scientific” one, which is always so important to liberals, don’t you know. · 1 minute ago

    My answer to that is yes.  Of course I’m being as snarky as they, but truth be told the scince is in the coming together of the sperm and the egg (the magic too).

  8. Devereaux

    Bravo, Tommy!

    The Left has long dominated the terms of the debate. We on the Right have had a few victories, as when this debate went Pro-LIFE, and disconcerted the Lefties. Still, overall, the Left dominates the terms of the debate.

    To change that will take a concerted effort, both in renaming and demanding accountability for the terms currently in use by the Left. They LOVE to talk about “fairness” rather than taxation by government, on “rights” as against free provision of government service, on secular non-support rather than driving out faith, etc. We have spent little time renaming these, and on the few feeble tries have not had much success.

    Much of what the Left proposes is ugly. We succeed disassembling it only when  we manage to portray it for what it is.

  9. paulebe

    Loved this post, Tommy.  Thank you for writing it!  

    There are so many words the left has taken possession of, twisted, and given entirely new meaning to them.  The one that keeps coming to mind as I write this is “gay”.  Lovely word. Totally requisitioned and turned into  something that is, by any biblical definition, an abomination.

    No matter how “scientific” or sterilized we try to make it, the murder of an unborn zygote, fetus, blob of protoplasm, or mass of cells, in God’s eyes, is murder.  While he will, thankfully, save each one of those 70 million-plus souls for all eternity, the damage here below will have been done.  

    We are all coarsened by the fact that, in virtually all of our cities, a so-called doctor is going to work this morning.  His job today will be to systematically tear a child from it’s God-formed place of nurturing and growth.  This doctor will do so and be enriched, in many cases directly or indirectly, by my tax dollars.  A baby will die.  A mother will be permanently scarred. The country will die a little more.

    How long will we sanction this mass murder?

  10. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C
    Tommy De Seno: 

    It’s time to “stop and challenge.”  Stop the conversation and challenge the misnomer.   Don’t continue the conversation without this fight.  When one mentions the “right to choose” ask them, “Choose what?”  The initial response may be that you are taking the conversations off the rails or being facetious.  Continue.  Insist upon a response.  The agitated answer you will get is, “Choose an abortion.”  Respond that it’s too broad a term because a mission or a game can be aborted.  Then insist, “Describe what you are choosing to do so I know exactly what you are talking about.”  Make them say it.

    This is a powerful argument if you’re talking about abortions — sorry, going to use the word — that are done to fetuses more than four weeks old; before that, they don’t have limbs to tear off or hearts to stop.

    Honesty should go both ways: those who favor access to abortion should acknowledge that the procedure describes the purposeful killing of a human life; those on the other side should concede that they see a blastocyst as morally indistinguishable from a four-year old.

  11. Western Chauvinist

    The abuse of the language is destructive and disturbing. However, if we want to be effective in persuading people about bioethics, there might be better ways than arguing the terms.

    There’s an organization called Justice for All, which I highly recommend to you. Sometimes baby steps work best.

  12. liberal jim
    Tommy De Seno:Onomasiology (n)- the study of choosing words to best express a concept.

    The left has proven far more adept than the right at renaming unpopular ideas to make them palatable in conversation.    

    Your imaginary problem is not with ordinary people and the words they choose to use in conversions.  There is a problem among right leaning mealy mouthed pundits and politicians, but it is not primarily a linguistic one.  These groups so fear being label extreme, thus jeopardizing their coveted positions, that they purposely choose language that is void of concrete meaning.   They do not lack when it comes to intellect and language skills, but are certainly lacking when it comes to honesty, conviction,  and courage.  I would say the prevalent language is an indication of the fundamental corruption and lack of courage of the elites on the right and not the skill of those on the left as you maintain. 

    It is often easier to look through a window than in a mirror.

  13. Basil Fawlty

    The left has proven far more adept than the right at renaming unpopular ideas to make them palatable in conversation.   Racial quotas become “Affirmative Action.” Terrorism becomes “man-caused disaster.”  Contraception becomes “women’s health issue.” 

    Homosexual marriage becomes “marriage equality?”

  14. Richard
    paulebe: Loved this post, Tommy.  Thank you for writing it!  

    There are so many words the left has taken possession of, twisted, and given entirely new meaning to them.  The one that keeps coming to mind as I write this is “gay”.  Lovely word. Totally requisitioned and turned into  something that is, by any biblical definition, an abomination.

    I don’t think you should be sowing mixed seeds in the same field. It is not in the interest of people who are interested in saving human life to lump in other social issues with that. You should be able to be pro-life without being forced to accept a package deal.  

  15. Sleepless in Wisconsin
    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. So I think they would try to blunt the descriptions of the killing of a child by saying that it is the destruction of a fetus.

    Agreed!

    Since both a baby and a fetus have a skull, I will ask those who espouse abortion if they are willing to personally crush the skull in a late term abortion themselves.  Applied with a gentle, non-judgemental tone, I find the skull crushing approach very effective in giving the most adamant “pro choice”  lifeform pause.

  16. katievs
    Richard: I don’t think most “pro-choice” individuals acknowledge the unborn child as a human being. They like to use the word “fetus”, and they are very insistent on that word being used. 

    Anyone who denies that a fetus is a human being is “believing” something in complete defiance of science and reason.   Any doubts what this in utero creature is?

    in-utero-elephant.jpg

    How about this ex-utero fetus?

    baby-in-hand.jpg

  17. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    As a journalist, I’m not completely opposed to euphemisms, particularly when trying to report fairly without siding with one group or another. But in the abortion debate, the euphemisms have gotten so out of control. I saw this most when the media bristled at even using the name for the legislation banning partial-birth abortion. Obviously they were fine with the “abortion” term but they hated using “partial-birth.” Even that very small level of description of what was actually going on was a bridge too far.

    Also, fetus is simply a Latin term that has come to mean unborn child. Why we’d prefer the Latin to the plain English is beyond me.

  18. ljt

    Abortion? Gross! – its Reprductive Justice.

    You are So right. And the right is bad at it. Steve Hayes – right after Bengazi claimed it was “The Collapse of the Obama Doctrine”. at the time I was thinking if we had the lefts’ skill  we would have had every pundit on every show use that phrase.  It would slowly burn into the national conciousness and we would be set. But somehow everyone needed to use their own phrase – failure of policy, etc… And no one remembers that.

  19. katievs

    The great and marvelously accessible 20th German philosopher, Josef Pieper, has an absolutely brilliant little book called, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.

    He articulates with admirable depth and clarity the mystery of words and communication.  Words are the medium through which we communicate reality to each other.  We owe each other reality.  When we use words to hide or obscure reality, because we want to bring about a particular outcome that suits our private interests, we are abusing power and abusing others.  

    It’s radically unethical and anti-democratic.

  20. Colin B Lane

    Tommy, very nicely done. But don’t forget the other euphemism that is now employed: “women’s reproductive health.” As in, “Mitt Romney and the evil Republicans want to deny women the right to reproductive health.”

    The lie in this is so big as to enter the realm of the sociopathic. 

    I like to point out on both “choice” and “women’s reproductive health” that the choice begins before they choose to have sex. When the “rape/incest” canard card is then invariably played, I tell them I’ll go ahead and agree for the purposes of argument to allow for abortion in the infinitesimal number of these cases and then continue to press my point. 

    Staying logical and factual, and forcing people to be specific about what their words mean is very effective. 

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