By Paul Stark
Editor’s note. This appears in the February digital edition of NRL News. Please read the entire 38-page issue and share with family and friends.
“Abortion. Is. Health care,” emphatically proclaims NARAL Pro-Choice America. That group is not the only one who says so.
Defenders of abortion often call it “health care” or “reproductive health care.” They routinely use the term “abortion care.” They say abortion is a “medical procedure” and call drug-induced (non-surgical) abortion “medication abortion.”
This use of terminology should strike everyone, including those who support abortion, as simply ridiculous.
The purpose of health care is to preserve or restore healthy functioning. Merriam-Webster provides this definition: “efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being.” Medicine, similarly, is defined as “the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease.” Medication and medical procedures are about treating illness.
So is abortion health care? Is it medicine?
In rare and tragic cases, such as ectopic pregnancy and uterine cancer, correcting a pathology threatening a pregnant woman’s life entails removing her unborn child—even though that child may not be able to survive. These situations are not at issue in the abortion debate.
At issue, rather, is what is sometimes called elective abortion or “direct” abortion. To be a form of health care (or medicine), it would have to “maintain or restore” health. But the pregnancy that abortion ends is not a disease. On the contrary, pregnancy indicates that the reproductive system is functioning properly. It shows reproductive health, not disease.
And what is abortion itself? Direct abortion is the intentional killing of the living organism in utero. It is an attack on health and life. It is literally the opposite of health care. It is anti-medicine.
“[T]here is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by the operator,” explains prominent abortion practitioner Warren Hern. “It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like electric current.”
“Abortion is killing. Nobody can argue with that,” abortion practitioner and clinic founder Bertran Wainer acknowledges. “When the fetus is inside the uterus it is alive and when the pregnancy is terminated it is dead.”
One is free to argue, as many do, that such killing is morally acceptable or that the individual whose life ends doesn’t have a right to exist (though these arguments are mistaken). But one cannot claim, with intellectual honesty, that it is health care. That’s just a lie.
There’s no getting around this. A whole industry has chosen to use Orwellian euphemisms that are scientifically absurd.
The motivation is clear enough. Abortion doesn’t exactly strike most people as a good thing. Abortion dismembers and crushes and poisons. But health care is good, and if abortion is health care, then abortion is good. Medicalizing killing—couching it in medical terminology—makes the killing seem more legitimate.
This reality-obscuring language is doublespeak. Abortion defenders have long employed doublespeak euphemisms like “termination of pregnancy,” “products of conception,” “emptying the uterus,” and even (courtesy of Planned Parenthood) “taking a pregnancy out of the uterus.” But calling abortion “health care” or “medicine” is a different level of deception. It’s like saying that up is down and health is sickness and death is life.
“It is … words, not facts, that shape reality for many people,” warned the late Jean Staker Garton in her book Who Broke the Baby? “We must insist that words and images describe, comprehend, and recognize what really is rather than what is only an unreality manufactured through word games that reduce us to intellectual and emotional children.”
Abortion. Is. Not. Health care.