Pro-abortion activist Carole Joffe wrote a book about abortion clinic workers entitled, The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family-Planning Workers. For the book, she interviewed women from different abortion facilities about their centers’ day to day operation. Joffe wrote the following about the training abortion counselors received:
… A good deal of time was devoted to “word sensitization” – the need to choose one’s words with extraordinary care when discussing the abortion procedure with clients.…
The most interesting problem was how to refer to the product of the abortion. Although it was acknowledged that many clients would refer to this as the “baby,” or the “pregnancy,” new counselors were, not surprisingly, urged not to use these charged terms, but instead to use the more neutral, though admittedly more awkward, “product of conception” or “tissue.”
If clinic workers used the term “baby” they would be less effective in selling abortion to pregnant women. Fewer women might have abortions if abortion workers acknowledged the humanity of preborn children. When a woman comes to the abortion center convinced she is killing her baby, a helpful abortion worker is there to assure her that she is only getting rid of some “tissue.” After all, abortion facilities are businesses, and they only make money if a woman chooses to abort. There is plenty of evidence that abortion workers sometimes lie or withhold information from women, or put pressure on them to abort.
But there may also be another reason why abortion workers don’t use the term “baby.” They preside over killing preborn children every day. When they refer to the baby as “fetal tissue,” “products of conception,” or other euphemisms, they insulate themselves from the truth. As one abortion worker says:
I feel some sadness [about second trimester abortions]…And I think part of the problem is that we don’t talk about that…. Do you see what I’m saying – that somehow your pro-choice stand is compromised by saying the word “baby.”… We don’t allow ourselves to say or think that word…
It’s hard to face up to the fact that you help kill babies for a living.
Whether in an effort to sell abortions to vulnerable women or to hide the reality of abortion from themselves, abortion workers avoid the term “baby.”