Reproductive health sure sounds like an unqualified good thing. Being cast against reproductive health is bad. You’re against healthy reproduction. You probably go out evenings and weekends and accost people to break up their wholesome efforts to reproduce.
Vocabulary in the abortion debate is a stacked deck. Abortion advocates and their media protectors can’t talk plainly about the facts. That would expose their chilling cause. Whether someone opposes or supports legal abortion, honesty—meaning clarity—is being lost in the debate.
Philadelphia butcher Kermit Gosnell’s murder accomplice, Steven Massof, coldly told investigators of a baby, who, about to have his spinal cord scissored in the back of the neck, exhibited a “respiratory excursion.” “The baby was breathing” might have sounded too much like murder even to the murderer. But euphemisms mask everything about abortion.
Abortion activists do better than put makeup on ugly facts. They seize the verbal high ground, shaping the debate with words that obscure, change, even reverse the meaning of important things. Reproductive health, choice, privacy. Nothing could be more wholesome…or deceptive.
“Reproductive health” almost always means abortion or contraception, two subjects of different import and different merit. But the phrase conceals both subjects. A giveaway for deception is when advocates have to use appealing, reassuring words very different from the things they’re discussing. In this case, the euphemism turns a 180.
Contraception does not help cause reproduction--quite the opposite. Neither is abortion an aid to reproduction. Advocates aren’t talking about reproduction; they’re talking about anti –reproduction, preventing or terminating pregnancy. Calling it reproduction is a neat switch that turns the head in a comforting but false direction. Activist demands for reproductive health don’t seek fertility treatment, respite care for troubled pregnancies, or nursing coaches. Truth in labeling would require them to call it anti-reproductive health.
And, hold on. What’s that word health? It means a state of well-being, of sound physical status. The opposite is sickness or infirmity. But, pregnancy is not an illness or infirmity. It’s the crowning accomplishment of biology, the key to the survival of species. In normal pregnancy, both mother and child are healthy--until the child is extinguished. But advocates for anti-reproduction somehow grab the mantle of “health.” To argue against their position is to oppose health itself: “Those nasty pro-lifers are against health! They’re for sickness and infirmity!”
The advocate’s rhetorical high ground belies an atrocious reality, exemplified by a recent report from the New York Health Department. In 2012, more black babies were aborted than were born alive-- 31,328 to 24,758. Perhaps instead of reproductive health, we should call it the realization of Margret Sanger’s final solution.
Consider, too, the oddity of calling the termination of a fetus “health care.” Certainly, it’s performed by doctors, trained in the art and science, and using the tools of medicine. But it’s unique in all of health care in its purpose to terminate a healthy human organism. There’s an asterisk and exception to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no Harm.
Someone certainly gets harmed in abortion. Advancing science has opened our eyes to how recognizably human embryos are at very early stages of development. In a biological sense, performing an abortion constitutes practicing medicine about the way shooting a woman with a nail gun constitutes practicing carpentry.
The same deception of meaning pervades the whole debate over abortion. Advocates hijack the word “privacy” to cloak a procedure that takes place outside the bedroom, outside the home, inside a commercial establishment, involving other people, with money changing hands to pay for services. A lot of adjectives might apply to the scenario, but private isn’t one of them. Imagine people conducting any other kind of consensual capitalism or business transaction, trying to shield it from law and regulation by calling it “private.” The same advocates who wield that word would suddenly remember what it means, and it’s not that.
Similarly, catch phrases like “keep government out of my bedroom and off my body” appear to protect a natural zone of privacy and autonomy. But most the people incanting such slogans have, since 2012, been doggedly demanding that government subsidize--and force employers to subsidize--choices and procedures right inside their uterus. “Government, keep mostly off my body!” In many cases, the same advocates have no problem with government aiming policies intended to affect body fat or use of salt, transfats, tobacco, seatbelts, or many other things that would seem to be personal “body choices.”
The latest pernicious word-snatching is the “war on women,” invented by activists and flogged by media. As the advocates tell it, any move to limit abortion—or to oppose Obamacare’s contraception mandate—wages war on women. The problem with that theory is polling consistently shows men and women relatively close and evenly divided on identification as pro-choice or pro-life, and only a modest gender divide on the mandate question.Still, activists absurdly declare pro-life or pro-religious freedom positions are acts of war against the roughly half of women who support those very policies. And media amplifies that message, not the quite different truth.
The Big Pens and Big Hairs who shape news make a pop hero of Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator who filibustered against late term abortion limits supported by over 60% of Texans and Americans generally. She gets hailed and haloed as a defender of women and reproductive health. Meanwhile, leaders who would adopt policies to find and close a horror house like Gosnell’s Philadelphia butchery are deemed warring against women.
Duped by words and slogans that subvert the truth, we can’t hope to have honest debate on abortion, or anything else for that matter.