One of the most powerful tools in any social justice cause is language.
He who defines, wins.
Your choices of words used in the defense of life can mean the difference between an individual being convinced of the injustice of abortion, or conversely, leaving him unmoved, continuing to defend the abortion choice. The phrases you make use of can mean the difference between a child being spared death by abortion, or having her life ripped away from her.
Our goal must be to choose words that reinforce the humanity of the preborn child. Also, we must strive to not understate the immensity of the injustice that the abortion industry inflicts on its victims.
Here is a list of ten words and phrases key to the abortion debate. Some of these are words you should avoid saying. Others are terms you should start using.
1. Say “preborn,” not “unborn”
The child in the womb is predominantly referred to as being “unborn.” This is technically correct. However the term provides us with no indication that this status will soon change to “born.” Instead of saying that the child is unborn, refer to the child as being “preborn.” Sure, the wavy red lines will appear whenever you type this recently coined word, however this is a small price to pay for the humanity you are assigning the developing child by using this word. “Preborn” speaks of potential, whereas – thanks to the “un,” the word “unborn” has an almost negative connotation to it.
2. Don’t say “abortion doctor”
Someone who murders tiny children for a living, is no doctor. He has violated the Hippocratic Oath which states that physicians are obligated to “do no harm.” He may be a doctor in the legal sense of the word – but so were the unspeakably cruel Nazi scientists who, devoid of any sense of humanity, committed all manner of painful, degrading and deadly experiments on their Jewish victims during the Holocaust. The abortion industry hates the term “abortionist.” Instead they prefer to say “director of medical services,” or simply, “doctor.” Instead of “abortion doctor,” say “abortionist.” Personally, whenever referring to an individual who commits abortions, I always make a point of leaving out the “Dr.” from before their name.
3. Refer to abortion as a human rights injustice
The fight to abolish abortion is not just one cause amongst many. Abortion kills the most innocent and the most helpless in the cruelest way imaginable. And it is not only the most prevalent injustice of our day, it is also widely accepted and tolerated by our society. Abortion is so evil, and so widespread, that we must be careful not to undersell it as “just another cause.” When discussing the issue with more nominal, inactive “pro-lifers,” I point out that abortion is the greatest human rights injustice of all time.
4. Say “mother” instead of “woman”
When referring to a woman who is pregnant, make a pointed effort to refer to her as a mother, and not simply as a woman. When we refer to a woman as a mother, the unspoken understanding is that she has a child. This may seem like a simple distinction, however it refers to the humanity of the child, and makes us think of a mother’s duty to protect and care for her child. The abortion lobby has gone so far the other way so that they now avoid even referring to a pregnant mother as a pregnant woman. Instead they refer to her as a “pregnant person.” These are the lengths they will go to in order to make the act of abortion a little less tangible, a little more tolerable.
5. Don’t say “one on the way”
Often beaming parents will gladly tell you that they have one child, plus “one on the way.” This terminology takes away from the humanity of the preborn child, because one implication could be that the child is, well, not quite a child yet. I understand that this is not what goes through the minds of expecting parents when they use this phrase. Maybe you simply mean that your preborn child is “on the way” to birth. But by setting birth as some sort of a benchmark for arriving as a fully-fledged member of the human race, we are undermining – even in a small way, the humanity of the child. When we say that we have “one child, plus one on the way,” we unintentionally split our children into classes. Note that the first child is specifically referred to as a child, whereas the second child is said to be “on the way.”
6. Give the preborn child a gender
Avoid referring to an preborn child as “it.” Whether referring to an preborn child in a conversation on the morality of abortion, assign the child a gender. Of course you don’t know which gender the child is, however referring to the child as “him” or “her” validates the humanity of the child more than referring to the child as “it.” For instance, instead of “the abortionist rips the preborn child from out of its mother and throws it in the medical waste container,” try “the abortionist rips the preborn child from out of her mother and throws her in the medical waste container.”
7. Measure a child’s age from conception
You are nine months older than you think you are. So here’s a small thing parents can do. Whenever your child’s age comes up in conversation, add on nine months from when your child was born. More often than not, this will lead the conversation into a discussion about preborn children, and the great threat facing them. This is a harmless, thought-provoking way to bring the humanity of the preborn child into everyday conversation.
8. Say “pro-abortion” instead of “prochoice”
Abortion is a woman’s choice in the same way that rape is a man’s choice. The term “prochoice” is a misnomer. It is a word carefully crafted by the abortion industry in an attempt to guilt people who disagree with abortion into silence. Because who wants to be an opponent of choice, right? When someone tells you that they are prochoice, simply ask them “which choice?” They will tell you that they support a woman’s right to choose adoption, abortion, or to keep the child. The fact remains that they are endorsing the abortion choice as an acceptable practice that should remain legal. People who support the right to bear arms are “pro-gun rights.” In the same way, people who support the right for people to have their child killed by abortion are pro-abortion. Whenever I do use the term “prochoice,” I always enclose it in quotation marks to indicate that I am merely referencing the word, but not assigning it any credibility.
9. Say “abortion business”
Abortion businesses like to call themselves anything but that. The phrases you’ll hear to describe these companies includes: “abortion clinic,” “women’s health center,” and “reproductive healthcare clinic.” The word “clinic” suggests healthcare, and abortion is not healthcare. Abortion is murder. These phrases may be accurate to varying degrees, however they are all attempts to sanitize the horrific truth of what goes on behind those four walls. Some pro-lifers refer to these places as “abortion mills.” I think this is a good phrase to use. I choose to refer to these places as abortion businesses or abortion facilities.
10. Say “committed” instead of “performed an abortion”
When an abortionist turns on his suction machine and inserts the vacuum into a mother to tear out a preborn child, the media and the abortion industry will tell you that an abortion has just been performed. No one in their right minds speaking of the terrorist attacks of 9-11 would state that the terrorists had performed a terrorist attack. Rather you will hear that they committed an act of terror. When speaking of the violent actions of abortionist, we must avoid lending them the credibility of referring to their killings as being “performed.” Instead, try using the word “committed.”
The words and phrases (and their more pro-life alternatives) that I’ve outlined above are not absolute rules, and you are not necessarily right or wrong to choose to use one term or the other. However what you will find when you start using the more pro-life terms, is that they serve to wake people up a little bit. In each of the above examples, we’re seeking to jolt our culture out of their complacency by using terms that achieve two things. First, our terms more accurately convey the true nature of abortion. And secondly, our terms assign the preborn child the dignity and humanity that is rightfully theirs.