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Another Word for Failure

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Editor’s Note: Jean Garton is the author of “Who Broke the Baby? What the Abortion Slogans Really Mean.” As a writer, Jean excels in a variety of genres, but her greatest strength lies in her ability to uncover the underlying meanings of controversial rhetoric. In her classic book, she employs a methodical approach, delving deeply into the nuances of anti-life rhetoric to reveal the hidden codes and ideologies that lie beneath the surface. This article, from our January 2001 issue, is part of our year-long “Roe at 40” series, in which we are reprinting some of the most noteworthy stories to appear in National Right to Life News since 1973. We kindly request that you share this article on your social networks.

One of the most worn and damaged books in my office is a valuable find from a garage sale. It was in a dirty cardboard box filled with dusty old volumes. A scribbled sign read, “10[cent] each.” My bargain book is a 60-year-old copy of Roget’s Thesaurus. In contrast to the more recent edition on my bookshelf, the older one contains words that, in the current lexicon, have been stripped of their original meaning. When I require an alternative term for a speech or article, the older version serves as a valuable resource.

One day, while attempting to identify an alternative term for the word “failure,” the thesaurus yielded the following options: The thesaurus offered a number of alternative terms, including “successlessness,” “blunder,” “defectiveness,” and “abortion.”

One might inquire whether the term “abortion” is indeed a suitable synonym for the word “failure.” A synonym for “failure”? The company is particularly disconcerting, particularly given the contemporary association of abortion with words such as “choice,” “privacy,” and “rights,” which are perceived as positive and benign.

The consequences of abortion are, in fact, dire, as most women who have undergone this procedure can attest. One might inquire as to why women who have undergone an abortion do not share their experiences with other women. If abortion is perceived as a blunder, a defect, a failure, a painful experience, and a source of disappointment, it stands to reason that women who have had an abortion would be reluctant to discuss it with others.

One reason victims are reluctant to “go public” with their “choice” is because often concealing an abortion quickly becomes their highest priority. These unfortunate women have learned to their everlasting regret that yesterday’s “solution” has become today’s (and tomorrow’s) ever-present problem. Managing guilt, suffering, and loss can absorb all their energies. However, the conspiracy of silence is not limited to the grieving woman whose child has died.

After all, she has a family, friends, and the baby has (had) a father. How do we explain the unwillingness of others around her, including those who are personally pro-life, to “go public” with what they know to be true?

One possible explanation is that while it is unborn babies who die as a consequence of abortion, a nation’s moral imagination – its ability to empathize – can also be killed. The notion that one can perpetrate an act of violence without suffering a corresponding loss of moral fiber is a dangerous delusion.

A recent column by the Boston Globe’s Ellen Goodman provides a classic example. Entitled “The Abortion Pill: It’s About Time,” the column offers a glowing account of the chemical abortion pill, RU486. However, the author dismisses concern for the unborn child as insignificant, stating that the procedure is “no larger than a grain of rice.”

She did not mention that RU486 is used at a time when the unborn child has a beating heart, spinal cord, two brain lobes, internal organs, and even a face. After 28 years of pro-life education and legislation, it is perplexing how people can be so ignorant of reality.
It is appropriate to acknowledge frustration from time to time. However, it is crucial to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, our movement is still quite young.

This is why we can assert with sincerity that we have only just begun to engage in this struggle. As this issue demonstrates, after a period of eight years during which pro-abortion President Bill Clinton held office, the pro-life movement is now stronger than it was when he assumed the presidency in 1993.

This is why we will continue our winning strategy: educational efforts that are kind, patient, and relentless in their pursuit of the truth. The pro-life movement has been successful in disseminating information about abortion procedures, leading to a significant reduction in the number of medical training centers that teach abortion procedures. Similarly, the number of facilities providing abortions has decreased by 40% as a result of the pro-life movement’s efforts.

Moreover, the pro-life movement has made the crucial decision to go public with the truth, despite the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that was supposed to have “settled” the abortion question. As a result, abortion remains today the most unsettled question in our public life.

Upon reflection, it is evident that my old 10-cent Roget’s Thesaurus had a profound insight. Abortion is a failure in that it demonstrates a lack of care, protection, and assistance.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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