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Tipsheet

WaPo Claims Democrats Are Divided Over Using the Term ‘Abortion’

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

A piece published in The Washington Post on Saturday claimed that Democrats are divided over using the term “abortion” when it comes to pushing their extreme “pro-choice” policies. 

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The piece, written by WaPo reporter Caroline Kitchener, comes as several states, such as FloridaIdaho, and Arizona have pushed legislation limiting abortion to protect unborn lives. In addition, a 15-week abortion ban is currently under review by the Supreme Court. In response, several pro-abortion lawmakers, such as Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom have announced plans to expand abortion.

Kitchener explained that a “diverse coaltion of abortion rights groups” led by the organization We Testify urges politicians like President Biden and other pro-abortion Democats to use the word “abortion” to “help destigmatize the procedure at a critical moment.” Kitchener added that leaders at Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Emily’s List also urge Democrats to use the word “abortion.”

“Those abortion rights groups only recently shifted their rhetoric, moving away from a discussion of giving women the ‘choice’ to a full embrace of the word ‘abortion,’ pushed by women of color-led advocacy groups that have championed the more direct language,” Kitchener wrote.

Renee Bracey Sherman, founder of We Testify, told Kitchener that Democrats need to “unapologetically” embrace abortion. She created an online tracker called “Did Biden Say Abortion Yet?” to keep track of how many times the president uses the term.

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Kitchener added that Bracey Sherman wrote in a statement after Biden’s State of the Union address that “we cannot afford to have a pro-choice president who is afraid to say the word abortion.”

On the contrary, Kitchener explained that Democrats in “competitive districts” tend to “lean on other words,” such as “freedom” and “personal decisions.” One of Biden’s pollsters, Celinda Lake, emphasized this.

“In more marginal districts, [you] should talk much more about the shared value than the medical procedure,” Lake told Kitchener. She did not use the term “abortion.” She added that voters are more receptive to statements such as “we’re going to protect reproductive health care, including abortion” rather than only saying the word “abortion.”

Catholic Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb (PA) told Kitchener that he generally uses the term “woman’s right to choose” or “health care” over “abortion.” He added he likes to emphasize the word “choice.”

Laphonza Butler, the president of Emily’s List, disagrees. Butler told Kitchener that “using euphenisms can fuel stigma and being direct about support for abortion rights is not only the right things to do, but also politically advantageous.”

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Mallory Carroll, who is vice president of communications at pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, told Kitchener that Democrats use the term “choice” and other terms “as an attempt to divert attention away from the procedure itself” when it comes to abortion. 

“If Democrats make the conversation about ‘a woman’s right to choose’ or a ‘constitutional right,’ more moderates will support their position on abortion,” Carroll told Kitchener. “Everyone can get behind the constitution. Everyone likes the idea of rights.”

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