Analysis

No talking point left behind: Choicespeak-to-English Dictionary, Part 2

In our first installment of the Choicespeak-to-English Dictionary, we took a look at various scientific facts the abortion movement tries to hide and twist by mis-defining terminology. Today we move on to the realm of moral and philosophical language, which, as less technical and empirical spheres than science, are particularly vulnerable to rhetorical manipulation. That’s where we come in.

Murder—According to pro-aborts, “murder” can denote only the legal crime by that name, so abortion cannot be murder simply because it’s not illegal. But this is willful obtuseness to an absurd degree. Laws exist to reflect and apply society’s gravest moral judgments — in this case, the judgment that needlessly taking human life is profoundly evil. The distinction between legitimate killing (like self-defense against physical violence) and evil killing (i.e., avoidable and driven by anger, greed, or hatred) is hardly exclusive to the legal sphere; it’s well-trod ground in philosophy and theology as well.

“Murder” is perfectly reasonable shorthand for “evil killing,” even when we’re talking about moral law rather than civil law. If somehow a constitutional amendment passed legalizing the slaughter of Jews, it would unquestionably be legal, yet would we be wrong to call it murder? Or if the government you were living under collapsed, and someone killed you to steal from you? Would the fact that law no longer existed at all mean we couldn’t call the act by the most obvious name that comes to mind?

Tellingly, war and capital punishment are legal, too, yet that doesn’t stop their opponents — many of whom also vehemently defend abortion — from decrying them as “state-sanctioned murder.” Yet those who disagree with them do so by debating the ethics of each issue, not by quibbling over legal semantics.

It’s true that the concept of legal murder sounds like an oxymoron. It should be an oxymoron. But that’s the point. The only reason abortion isn’t recognized as murder is because its defenders have fraudulently excommunicated its victims out of the human family.

Innocent—Most people instinctively understand that innocence is a pretty big deal when someone is killed. It’s why coverage of natural disasters or wartime civilian casualties often laments all the “innocent lives lost.” It’s why society executes serial killers but not litterbugs. So it’s obvious why pro-aborts would want to discredit both halves of the phrase “innocent babies.”

Because fetuses are not mentally developed enough to consciously make rational decisions informed by a sense of right and wrong, they say, fetuses cannot be truly innocent. But ironically, pro-aborts who raise this objection are a bit like a religious person nitpicking how nobody’s technically innocent because of original sin. Calling the unborn “innocent” isn’t using the term in some deeper metaphysical sense about the subject’s morality or divine standing — it’s simply saying they are innocent of having done anything that deserves punishment by death.

Aggression—In a clear sign of being far less confident in their convictions than they claim, pro-aborts defensively upend virtually every aspect of the debate’s language, no matter how commonsense. Thus, they deny that having an abortion constitutes an act of aggression against one’s unborn son or daughter; instead, it’s merely denying an unwanted and unjustified intrusion on their turf.

To nonsense like this, there’s really only one answer: if the direct, intentional application of lethal force, exercised for reasons unrelated to any slightly proportional physical danger, doesn’t constitute aggression, then words no longer have meaning.

Self-Defense—Closely related to the above thinking is the idea of abortion as self-defense. But this is patently ridiculous. The term “self-defense” raises the question: defending oneself against what? To qualify, there has to be some kind of threat — or the credible possibility of one — reasonably proportionate to the response. Shooting someone who points a gun at you? Self-defense. Shooting someone who points a camera at you? Not. For all the drawbacks of pregnancy, only a rare subset — those that put the mother in severe physical danger — constitute threats to which abortion could arguably be a proportionate defense.

Responsibility—From their freakouts whenever a pro-lifer raises the subject of sexual responsibility to the popular talking point “having an abortion is taking responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy,” few words are surrounded by greater pro-choice confusion.

Responsibility is not a difficult word to comprehend; it’s “the state of being the person who caused something to happen.” Saying women with unwanted pregnancies are generally responsible for them is merely an acknowledgment that the cause of unwanted pregnancy is no mystery and is fully within their power to prevent. It is not intrinsically paired with any of the other value judgments pro-aborts routinely imagine about “sluts” who don’t go to church enough or should be social pariahs, subservient to men, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, etc. It is not a synonym for consent or punishment.

It does, however, entail acknowledgement of whether your actions have wronged someone and, if so, a duty to set things right. In this case, the wronged party is a child whom you have put into a state of extreme need while having no intention of seeing that those needs are met, and subsequently exposed to the danger of being killed. Children are aborted precisely because their parents don’t want to take responsibility for them. To take credit for what you’re avoiding in the most harmful way possible is downright Orwellian.

Private/Personal—Despite their centrality to the right to choose’s creation myth, Roe v. Wade, pro-aborts seem not to have the foggiest idea what either of these words mean. “Privacy” is “the state of being alone” or “away from other people”; “personal” is “belonging or relating to a particular person.” Truly private, personal affairs concern only one person or are conducted among a small number of people who have chosen to keep matters between one another. But someone other than the mother is also involved in abortion, and in fact is affected far more severely than the mother: a helpless son or daughter who cannot consent to or affect any decision Mom makes about his or her fate. As such, it is no more private or personal than any case of child homicide, abuse, or neglect — matters in which nobody disputes the law’s intervention.

Rights—Pro-aborts seem to think of the word “rights” like it’s the free space in bingo. Legal abortion? The “right to choose.” Ultrasound and informed consent requirements? Those somehow infringe on that right, too, even though the seeker remains legally free to obtain one under them. Your fellow citizens’ tax dollars and private employers’ compensation decisions? They’ll be taking those, too, under the right to “access.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, “rights” are not shorthand for “anything I really, really want.” A “right” is “something to which one has a just claim.” There are generally two types of such claims: legal rights (granted or defined by law or contract) and rights according to some moral or philosophical system. At best, abortion can only be thought of as a legal right (though not a truly constitutional one, given Roe v. Wade’s abysmal substance).

For abortion to be a right in any deeper, morally binding sense, it has to logically follow from some sort of first principles…which is where pro-aborts’ rhetoric breaks down. Are their wishes rights under the Declaration of Independence? Lockean natural-law theory? Utilitarianism? Their own feminist brand of Christianity? Some other philosophy? They rarely say. But until they do, their talk of abortion “rights” means little more than “gimme.”

*            *            *

When people have reasoned their way into a position, plain English is enough to defend it. But when an agenda is built on greed masquerading as altruism and lies as fact, moving the semantic goalposts is the only way to keep the fantasy alive.

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