A small but important victory: Merriam-Webster describes “preborn” as “existing but not yet born”

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Editor’s note. This appeared in the August digital edition of National Right to Life News. I’m hoping that you are reading the entire issue and passing its contents along to family and friends.

It may seem like a small victory, but the pro-life movement has been powered by little victories that add up to big wins.

The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary includes the word “preborn” in its sizeable list of legitimate words.

Just the appearance of “preborn” in the world’s vocabulary is a triumph for those among the most vulnerable in our society—babies in their mothers’ wombs.

But also telling is the definition that Merriam-Webster ascribes to “preborn”: “existing but not yet born.”

The abortion industry would have us believe that preborn babies do not exist—that they are simply “clumps of cells” or “products of conception.” Abortion advocates and their allies in Congress and elsewhere use dehumanizing language to try to de-legitimize precious preborn children.

But here is Merriam-Webster, an arbiter of language, recognizing preborn babies for who they are—individuals in existence “yet to be born.”

The dictionary further defines “exist” as “to have life or the functions of vitality.”

“To have life”—that is the essence of the rationale for the pro-life movement, its own reason for existence. For, if a life exists, it needs to be protected, welcomed, nurtured.

I do not know whether the members of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court had ever heard of the term “preborn”—it seems to have only gained popularity in recent decades. The High Court admitted that it did not know when life begins, even though science clearly demonstrates that life commences at conception.

But it is high time our law caught up with both culture and science. Merriam-Webster recognizes that preborn babies exist. The highest court in the land should, too.

Roe v. Wade needs to be reversed, and states should be given the opportunity to fully protect preborn children and their mothers from the harm of abortion. It’s the civilized thing to do.