Words Do Matter

I have had it with the debate over the language used to describe abortion.

The argument that the language of the pro-life movement is responsible for the death of George Tiller is preposterous nonsense. It reduces us to nothing but objects pushed about by the forces of propaganda.

The truth is that one does not need propaganda to become outraged to the point of homicide; one can simply look up the details of what the procedure of abortion involves, particularly the partial-birth abortions performed by Tiller. The cold hard facts, regardless of any political spin or the additional words of any commentator, is quite sufficient.

Even some pro-choice commentators understand how absurd it is to try and cover up what abortion is. I quote the feminist author Naomi Wolfe,

The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers’ practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics …. [But] how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy.

Indeed! Sadly enough, there are some people on the pro-life side who can’t even acknowledge this. To insist that the truth is in poor taste – that it should be put away, where people cannot see – only begs the question; what is the truth, what are you hiding? If it is something so appalling that you fear it’s revelation in the light of truth, then it is not we who need to change our language, but you who needs to adjust your fundamental moral values.

We have been hearing that ‘words matter’. Yes, they certainly do. The words of the pro-choice movement, the radical feminists, and the politicians that serve them, are partially responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent children. It is the words of that entire movement that have served to dehumanize the unborn child, to convince women that their children inside them are just ‘clumps of cells’, their chattel property, to dispose of the instant they don’t want it anymore.

Pro-choice words have helped to create disposable human beings. Instead of cowering at the onslaught of rage directed at us for simply telling the truth about abortion – truths that any textbook description of the procedure free of any political taint whatsoever would reveal – we ought to be responding with our own well-measured and justifiable anger at the language the pro-choice crowd has used to dehumanize the unborn.

Many of these same people, after all, object to dehumanizing language when it comes to war, when it comes to racism, when it comes to sexism. They object when the generals call massive civillian casualties ‘collateral damage’, they object when black people or Jews or any other group are described as parasites or vermin or sub-humans that need to be exterminated or enslaved. Many of them are educated enough to understand full well the power of words, including the power of their own words. They know full well that abortion could not enjoy popular support unless people think of the unborn child as something less than human.

Maybe they even believe it themselves. Maybe they don’t care. Regardless, there are probably millions of women out there right now who, if not for the propaganda of the abortion lobby, of Planned Parenthood and other organizations, would hold their unborn children in high enough regard to at least put them up for adoption instead of having them butchered and thrown in the trash (which is exactly what happens to them).

So yes, words do matter. Their words have resulted in millions of deaths, have shattered millions of families, have robbed surviving children of the chance to know their siblings, fathers of the chance to know their sons and daughters, society of the chance to try and come to sensible and humane solutions to unwanted pregnancy, and women themselves of the chance of eventually coming to want a child that was, at first, and often in haste, ‘unwanted’. So let us take them to task for their words, and not vice-versa.

And let us continue to insist that, in spite of the horror with which we regard the practice of infanticide and abortion in general, it is for a just society to come to its senses and punish the offenders, not for lone individuals to summarily execute a defenseless man. Abortion cannot be stopped through such means. I am not one of those who categorically condemns all violence at all times – I am not a pacifist. But abortion is a problem that is deeply rooted in our culture of materialism and consumerism, as the late John Paul II so often argued, and that is a problem that cannot be solved with bullets.

This one, I had to cross-post. I hope it is the last thing I have to write about this topic. For while, anyway.

Cross posted over here.

15 Responses to Words Do Matter

  1. Matt McDonald says:

    Good post Joe. It takes guts to post such where you did.

  2. Christopher says:

    An excellent post, Joe — thank you.

    I was watching CNN yesterday with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, their chief medical correspondent, explaining in safe, clinical terms what happens in a partial birth abortion.

    Unfortunately, he didn’t get into specific detail as to what happens beyond the point ‘the fetus is partially delivered’, though I suspect he is aware of the procedure.

    But it struck me just how odd to employ the perhaps technically accurate but safe and coldly distant term ‘fetus’. What we would normally refer to as a ‘baby’ or a ‘child’ if we actually witnessed it ourselves.

  3. Joe Hargrave says:


    I’m always happy when you and I can agree on something 🙂

  4. Mark says:

    Joe has summarised quite brilliantly what I have been thinking about the whole Tiller thing. I have been apalled by the length to which some people will go to not appear reactionary to our chattering elite. So I better say it straightforwardly: Tiller was a moral monster by virtue of the horrific things he did for a living and I completely understand the impulse of the guy who shot him though I don’t condone his action. Indeed, a man has been slain and is certainly a victim, but he was definitely not an innocent victim. I think that the greater judgement will not fall on the murderer or even Tiller in this case, but instead squarely on the community which gave him cover and failed to bring to justice such a man before he is gunned down by an act of vigilantism.

  5. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Bravo Joe! Ugly words often have to be used to describe abortion because it is one of the ugliest of acts.

  6. paul zummo says:

    Yes, excellent post. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling evil by name, and in fact I think we have an absolute responsibility to do so.

  7. Rick Lugari says:

    Joe, I’ve been too busy to engage but I have been following some of these threads. I just wanted to take a moment now and lend you some moral support for fighting the

  8. Rick Lugari says:

    Joe, I’ve been too busy to engage but I have been following some of these threads. I just wanted to take a moment now and lend you some moral support for fighting the

  9. Rick Lugari says:

    …for fighting the good fight. It’s a complex and often times emotional issue and it’s particularly frustrating when people who would or should “get it” don’t. Frankly, I’ve sort of given up and trying to convince those people that abortion is not just a henouis crime but is just as much a cause of the culture of death as it is a result. We’ll stand a better chance sowing the seeds life among those who demonstrate and open heart and don’t insist they know better.

  10. S.B. says:

    Great post. And kudos on having the courage to post it at Vox Nova too . . . unfortunately, I wonder how much longer you’ll be able to blog there. Bloggers there who actually disagree with dissenters (as opposed to ignoring them or making disingenuous excuses for them) don’t seem to last long.

  11. TomSVDP says:

    This blog must be where I saw the website from newsbuster cited as to how Olbermann had said inflammatory words about Bush and Cheney as well. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/06/02/if-bush-or-cheney-had-been-assassinated-would-olbermann-msnbc-be-resp The article’s point being Olbermann would be as guilty with the same logic.

    So, my apologies if this is redundant.

    Redundant probably is that Tiller himself seemed to call them babies instead of Fetus (Latin “little one” someone said).

  12. Matt McDonald says:

    The article’s point being Olbermann would be as guilty with the same logic

    It’s interesting, but if Bush got assassinated, would Olbermann then consider himself as guilty as he consideres Fox?

  13. Joe Hargrave says:


    Vox Nova isn’t as bad as you think. Some people are annoyed with what I wrote, others have been supportive, and all, I believe, recognize my right to express my views as a contributor.

    That said, let me thank you all for the kind words. In a perverse way I feel like some of us need to be commissars, at least to the extent that they were morale boosters in times of terrible hardship. Incidents like the Tiller killing are bound to happen from time to time and people begin to lose their bearings. And heaven knows these days there aren’t as many priests willing to say what needs to be said.

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