Aborting Honesty with Language

When I was a teenager I would confuse some people and infuriate others by insisting that we should use medically correct terminology when discussing miscarriages. I still think it would be best if everyone were somehow automatically on the same page with precise language, but this is never going to happen.

I eventually grew up enough to realize this, and so I never use the term “abortion” to refer to a spontaneous miscarriage, even if it might be technically correct. It is technically correct, but it is also inappropriate because it does not communicate truth.

Unfortunately many people who share my views on the sanctity of life do not share my concern for communicating truth with our words. The term “abortifacient” is tossed around loosely when people want to condemn the use of the pill intended as a contraceptive, even though these same people would deem the word grossly inappropriate when discussing anything else which might inadvertently allow for conception without supporting the pregnancy to term (NSAIDs, breastfeeding, etc.).

This abuse of language is dishonest, and it hurts not only those with whom we seek to communicate, but our very selves. When we misuse language and select terms based on what we wish to prove rather than appropriateness for describing a particular situation, we  end up shaping our own thinking. Eventually we lose the ability to logically consider facts because we have skewed our minds with twisted words.

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3 thoughts on “Aborting Honesty with Language

  1. waywardson

    Words are powerful.

    Whether “abortion” or “miscarriage” is the right word has to do with intent. Abortion is intentional, miscarriage is not. When it comes to using the Pill as contraception, that’s a bit of a gray area, especially because the post-conception effect of the Pill is tertiary and not conclusively proven.

    If a woman is ovulating and has fertile CM, something has gone seriously wrong with the Pill. The data shows that pregnancy rates roughly correspond with ovulation rates when factoring in natural early pregnancy loss. Many things can cause early pregnancy loss, not just a Pill that obviously isn’t working as intended.

    The problem I have with the use of the “A-word” over “miscarriage” is that it seems to have been chosen to be emotionally manipulative. It seems designed to shock those who respect the sanctity of life, but haven’t been convinced that all sexuality should be oriented toward procreation. (For some strange reason, the much stronger natural law argument against sterilization–fertility is not a disease/don’t harm your body for sex–is rarely used when discussing the Pill.)

    But when people abuse language and manipulate others, that is dishonest. When people don’t trust someone, they stop listening.

  2. Pingback: Good Intentions | Life's Rich Pageant

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