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... By Any Other Name

Perceptions, Society and Morals

(Full disclosure: I am the proud father of two adopted daughters.)

There was a time when a pregnant woman would say that she was carrying a baby, from the moment she learned that conception had taken place. She didn't say, "I'm carrying a zygote."--or "blastocyst", or "embryo". She didn't even refer to that little life within her as a "fetus". It was a baby, a human, living baby. Whether or not the pregnancy was planned, or even wanted, it was a baby.

However, when abortion was legalized early in 1973, the language changed. Refuge from reality was taken in Latin, insulating us from recognizing the truth: that pregnancy from the beginning is the miracle of creating a new human life. We could not recognize that in the atmosphere of legalized abortion, lest we acknowledge that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, otherwise categorized by society as murder.

Early in 2011, this mechanism was amply illustrated by actress Nicole Kidman and her husband Kieth Urban, who happily announced the surrogate birth of their baby girl, Faith Margaret, expressing gratitude to their "gestational carrier." One marvels at their linguistic creativity. Personally, I would have preferred "surrogate mother." I wonder how many of you mothers out there would appreciate being referred to as "gestational carriers."

Some medical authorities some years ago, advocating the legalization of killing newly-born handicapped children, described them as "radically defective neonates." That's about the pinnacle of dehumanization, on a par with describing brain-damaged individuals as being in a "persistent vegetative state." I guess relating a severely injured or handicapped person to vegetation or "radically defective" shields us from the reality of dealing with a human life.

Personally, I'm much more comfortable referring to babies, mothers, parents and grandparents rather than the more politically-correct modern terminology of fetus, neonate, gestational carrier and vegetable. By dehumanizing the language, we enable magical thinking whereby we can choose a convenient rationalization rather than face the hard reality of the vicissitudes and necessities of life and the attendant responsibilities.

In 2008, there were 1.21 million abortions, down a bit from the peak of 1.6 million in 1990. Since Roe v. Wade there have been about 50 million abortions. In 2008 36% of abortions were to white women and just over 50% to black and Hispanic women. Nearly 60% were to college-educated women, which calls into question the commonly-cited element of poverty as a driving factor.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated during a speech some years ago, "It is a small leap in logic to go from taking life in the womb to taking life outside of the womb." Abortion-rights advocate Naomi Wolf has written, "... the pro-life slogan, 'Abortion stops a beating heart,' is incontrovertibly true." Fellow supporter Camille Paglia wrote "I have always admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful."

Recent figures from Planned Parenthood reveal a booming business. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) performed 332,278 surgical and chemical abortions in 2009. At the same time, there was a 25% decline--7,021 recipients--in prenatal services and adoption referrals, of which only 977 mothers received the latter, a 59% drop from 2008. At an average of $400 a pop, that's a net income from abortions of about $133 million. Not bad for a public service organization that receives taxpayer subsidy.

Finally, we have the replacing of the term "abortion" with the neutered term "pro-choice". "Choice" is a nice-sounding term; in this freedom-loving nation we are all in favor of "choice". But in a civilized society, our choices are of necessity limited. We cannot "choose" to burn down the house of a neighbor who annoys us. We cannot "choose" to drive 90 mph in a school zone because we're late to work. Also, we cannot "choose" to take another human life. Except in the latter case, there is an exception and I don't mean self-defense. Under Roe v. Wade, a human life can be taken for a variety of reasons other than to save the life of the mother, i.e. self defense. I won't bother to enumerate them as they are ludicrously varied, vague and rationalized. You've undoubtedly heard them all.

I close with a posthumous tribute to Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist and founder of NARAL ( National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), who estimated he had performed 75,000 abortions in his medical career. In 1979, he quit his practice and strongly and actively opposed abortion for the rest of his life. He was the producer of the lauded and reviled--depending on your orientation--film Silent Scream, which depicted ultrasound images of a pre-born baby trying to escape an abortionist's instrument. Dr. Nathanson died February 21st at the age of 84, a testimony to the miracle of redemption.


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