Words Matter

Editor   |   May 02, 2024

War on Semantics Takes a New Turn

In the battle to protect unborn babies and their mothers from abortion, the war of semantics has taken a turn.

Advocates of abortion on demand are savvy opponents who understand that choosing your words carefully makes a difference in being persuasively effective.

Semantics of course is the art of phraseology, that is, the ability of using nice-sounding words to describe something not so nice—like abortion.

The public debate regarding abortion’s role during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed and underscored the adaptability of the other side to alter its vocabulary. Their success remains to be seen.

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Language Police

A rose by any other name is still a rose, but some organizations are determined to make the pro-life movement appear less than beautiful.

In a war of words, National Public Radio’s managing editor, David Sweeney, recently issued an internal memo, instructing reporters to stop saying “pro-life” and instead use the phrase “abortion rights opponents.” And while staffers aren’t permitted to say abortion supporters are “pro-abortion,” they are free to call those of us in the pro-life community “anti-abortion.” It’s no small change. NPR is bent on framing the murder of the unborn in a friendlier light while casting a negative spin on the pro-life cause.

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We Like Abortion

During the late ‘80s the battle to protect preborn life took a tragic turn. Pro-abortion activists had millions of dollars at their disposal, so they hired pricey Madison Avenue marketing people who knew language generates emotion. It paints pictures with words. Marketing gurus excel at this manipulation of words—we call it semantics.

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Media Semantics

I often speak about semantics, the words we should use when talking about abortion. The following is euphemistically called a Code of Ethics for Journalists on Abortion. It’s a tongue-in-cheek jab at journalists.

Use fetus in all prenatal contexts, not just those involving abortion. Never mention mother in abortion contexts; always say woman. Always use pro-choice for abortion rights supporters. Avoid discussing why some pro-choice groups defend coercive abortion programs in China.

Always say anti-abortion, never pro-life, to describe abortion rights opponents. In stories involving non-treatment of handicapped infants or euthanasia, you should express surprise that anti-abortion forces are even interested.

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Use Truthful Words

Pro-abortion activists use semantics to sell abortion.  Semantics is the use of nice sounding words to hide the true meaning.  For example, they use “medication abortion” for chemical abortion pill because the word “medication” sounds positive and nurturing.

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Renaming Revolution

An online network for mothers produced a Renaming Revolution Glossary, a list of preferred semantics.  Anything associated with abortion was put into the category of “Loss.”  The word abortion is interchangeable with words like “compassionate removal” or “miscarriage without symptoms.”

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