by Mary E. Jaminet
February 9, 2007
Abortion has long been a battle of words and rhetoric. Advocates of a "woman's right to choose" have used terms like "blob of tissue," "clump of cells," and "safe, legal, and rare" to deflect and distract our minds from the gruesome reality of abortion.
From the very beginning, abortion advocates began calculated attempts to win the war of public opinion. In 1971, the pro-choice editors of California Medicine wrote in support of legalized abortion, yet had this to say:
Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices.The marketing and packaging of abortion has paid off for decades, even to the extent that some are willing to slap the label "pro-life" on supporters of abortion in cases of rape or incest, or supporters of embryonic stem cell research.
The expansion of "pro-life" recently progressed to a ridiculous level. Abortion providers themselves are now pro-life! "I am pro-life. . . . I recognize the lives gained through abortion. I see the lives of women and their children who are stronger and more stable because of a decision toward abortion," wrote Karen Kubby, self-described "pro-life" executive director of the Emma Goldman clinic (providing abortions up to twenty weeks) in Iowa City, Iowa. (Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 25, 2007.)
Now is the time to stop the deterioration of our pro-life label, and remember what's really at stake: protecting innocent life. Cutting through the rhetoric simply requires asking the question: What are they doing? It is important to remember that abortion advocates must not be allowed to market their evil through the use of language.
Nor should pro-lifers be lulled into a false security that their pro-life status can exist by word alone. Ask the hard questions, not only of local and national leaders, but of ourselves. What have we done lately to advocate for the tiniest victims of this act of violence? Are we praying daily for the end to abortion? Do we fulfill the responsibility of presenting the truth about life in our own family or community?
In the end, reclaiming our pro-life label will best be achieved not only by using language which clarifies the humanity of the unborn child, but in the activities that follow that verbal commitment.
Mary Jaminet is Special Project Coordinator at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.