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Partisan Word Games Don't Change the Reality of Abortion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Democratic consultant Jason Stanford of the Huffington Post thinks he has made a scientific discovery by claiming “birth control doesn’t cause abortions.” And he thinks opponents of ObamaCare’s abortion-pill mandate should throw in the towel.

Apparently Stanford failed to research the definition of “Orwellian.”

Stanford actually admits, in a crude way, the central claim of religious believers and pro-life Americans: that an individual human life begins when “the sperm takes the egg out to Bennigan’s and fertilizes it” and that many forms of “contraception” act after that event to “prevent the implantation in the uterus” of the new human being.

So far, so good. Stanford concedes that many forms of “contraception” destroy a new human being a week or more after fertilization—before it can implant into her mother’s uterus. This is an abortive destruction of human life that Obamacare mandate-opponents have been objecting to all along. Destroying an unborn human life in this way is as objectionable as surgical abortion.

But wait: Stanford insists that he himself doesn’t label the human being a “pregnancy” until the time of its implantation. And he doesn’t label the destruction of that life an “abortion” unless it is already a “pregnancy” after implantation. So merely by redefining these words, Stanford says that no one can claim to be destroying human lives with “contraception.”

Stanford is confusing semantics with science. If someone objects to destroying a post-fertilization preborn human being as an abortion, it is silly to respond that they should simply call that being “not a pregnancy” and therefore not a abortion. The being is destroyed no matter what you call it.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, concedes that many “contraceptive” items destroy a new human being before implantation: “These covered prescription drugs are specifically those that are designed to prevent implantation.”

Even President Obama’s Department of Justice quotes official language in the Federal Register in a new appellate court brief, which declares that many contraception items “act by . . . inhibiting implantation.”

So defenders of Obamacare’s attack on religious freedom are trying to play semantic games about the destruction of human life. But despite themselves, they backhandedly admit that many “contraception” items cause exactly the kind of destruction of human lives that pro-life people oppose.

Stanford objects that “you can’t terminate a pregnancy that doesn’t exist. That’s what they were getting at when they named it ‘contraception.’” But he is ignorant of history. When modern “contraception” arose in the mid-20th century, leading medical dictionaries such as Stedman’s, Dorland’s, and Blakiston’s defined these terms straightforwardly: conception means fecundation (fertilization), pregnancy is when a woman possesses a child after that, and abortion is an expulsion of that child from the woman.

Planned Parenthood and its allies, and the medical researchers developing contraception, lobbied to change some of these definitions in the 1970s. They knew their “contraception” methods were causing early abortions. (They explicitly intended to prevent implantation as an easy way to prevent born babies.) But they didn’t want the public to think of these methods as abortion. Pro-abortion politics trumped science then, as it has done now with Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate.

But Orwellianism does not become true simply by being widely used. Objections to early abortion pills mandated by Obamacare are based on the fact, agreed upon by both sides, that many of these items destroy young human beings after fertilization by preventing their implantation in the womb. Mandate defenders, including Secretary Sebelius, admit this. They just disagree whether it should be labeled abortion or whether it can trump religious freedom.

The abortion pill mandate is losing in court 12-4 thus far. Its defenders, and even its lawyers, must resort to sophism rather than rationality to justify its attack on religious freedom.

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