Friday, November 11, 2011

Using Language to Change Minds

In January, 1971 a conference was held in Los Angeles at the International Hotel, called Therapeutic Abortion: a Symposium on Implementation.

Father Paul Marx, the head of Human Life International, got an invitation to this symposium; he did not understand how one came across his desk, perhaps because he had a doctorate in sociology. In any event, he attended the symposium without divulging his identity as a Roman Catholic priest heading up the largest pro-life organization in the world.

He recorded the entire conference and then wrote up his observations in a book called The Death Peddlers; War on the Unborn. Although the book was written in 1971, he edited it in 1998 and I found a copy last year and began reading it yesterday.

Some pro-choicers continue to argue that the unborn are not human beings; they are not even babies, they are "zygotes", then "embryos", then "fetuses". I maintain that these are simply terms to define states of development; in no way do they define a change in nature of the unborn.

Evidence of this is clear in the book, when Marx records the statements of a nurse Henry Etta Blackmon in a panel discussion "In-Hospital Care and Post-Hospital Follow-up".

... in the case of abortion by D and C, never even mention "abortion", since D and C's were so common. Be on guard to keep your feelings from coming through. 'If you say, 'Suck out the baby', you may easily generate or increase trauma; say instead, 'Empty the uterus,' or 'We will scrape the lining of the uterus,' but never 'We will scrape away the baby.'

"These may seem very, very insignificant to us, but to the patient it can really imply that you are using a judgment, and quite often we are not aware of what we are saying. We have to be very, very sensitive, and very, very aware of what words we are using to describe the procedures used. Use the word "fetus"; this is a fetus; this is not a "baby". You should be able to describe the fetus if requested to."

She then went on to describe it herself, emphasizing how small it was during the first twelve weeks. It was important to be able to touch the patient, she said. Blackmon cautioned: if the patient might end up in an environment where mothers had delivered and/or in an area where babies were among excited parents, forewarn and prepare your charge, because she might identify "fetus" with "baby." There was nothing like anticipating the worst.

For those who still insist on calling the unborn "fetus" or "products of conception", there really is not much time left before they will have to abandon that line of argument. Science has proven otherwise; it is time they acknowledged the science when they argue for abortion. The terms carry no more weight in evaluating human life than the terms infant, newborn, toddler, pre-pubescent, teenager and adult. All are human beings; all deserve protection of their life.

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