Language Matters, and So Does the Way Pro-Lifers Talk about Life
“Republicans can’t outrun abortion,” wrote The Intelligencer’s Sarah Jones. She went on to state that those who are pro-life are of “a party that shows no mercy.” Apparently, pro-lifers “like to play language games” in order to “obscure facts,” which, according to Jones, has “unleashed great suffering” for women. Especially since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
It’s noteworthy that “language games,” as she put it, occur in all political parties to some degree or another (including Ms. Jones’s article). This shouldn’t be surprising. But the larger point to be made is that everyone in the pro-life movement has a duty to proclaim beliefs that reflect our true mission and emphasize the most important aspect of it. And that means the way we talk about it does matter. A lot.
The language of the abortion activists makes it easy to claim pro-lifers have “no mercy,” or that we don’t care about women. A recent poll that revealed that 56% of Democrats think babies with Down syndrome are better off being killed in the womb than being born only reaffirms why they use the language they do. It’s because they’re operating from a worldview in which unborn babies have no value. For them, it’s not about a human life, it’s about a “random clump of cells.” Adding any further “inconvenience” to that “mass” (such as Down syndrome) just fuels their flame.
For the abortion activist, pro-lifers “restricting” a woman’s ability to terminate an “unwanted clump of cells” is “inconsiderate.” Their language makes killing a baby seem like a “fundamental right.” They manipulate language to feed the lie that pro-lifers “rob” women of a choice the “Constitution protects.” Their language turns a baby into a “thing,” and our language must remind the world that babies — in or out of the womb — are human. And that, if anything, the Constitution protects the most basic human right there is, which is their right to life.
To speak about this as a pro-lifer, our language absolutely must be altered. True mercy is in the crucial distinction that’s reflected in how we talk about it, because it’s not a clump of cells, but a real, immeasurably valuable, and unique human being. An innocent little person worthy of life.
Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) is an E.R. doctor who has countless professional and personal examples of why human life — not abortion — should be at the heart of this discussion. On Wednesday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” McCormick shared a story about a woman who had metastatic cancer, with “hundreds of tumors all over her body, including her brain and her liver.”
“She was early in her pregnancy,” he explained, “and she was told, ‘If you get an abortion, we can try to give you chemo now [and] to get you radiated now, and we’ll extend your life.’” But the expecting mother chose life for her baby and followed through with her pregnancy, despite the risk. “She is now a miracle,” McCormick stated. After the birth of her child, she received treatment and became cancer free, going on 10 years now. He added that it’s “just another story created by God to show why life is important and [how] He is in control.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed and said it’s also an example of why “Republicans [don’t] need to back up at all and apologize for wanting to protect the unborn and their mothers from the horrors of abortion.”
Our deep concern for women and their struggles should be reflected in how we talk about life. As Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) shared on Tuesday’s episode of “Washington Watch,” pro-lifers must address “the fact that we’re the ones who support a real alternative, a real choice for women, [like] pregnancy resource centers.” Abortion activists frame the narrative that killing the baby is the only choice, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. One alternative to abortion is adoption.
McCormick explained that two of his best friends were adopted. “I can’t imagine this world without them,” he said. “I mean, they’re some of the most highly productive best friends, most moral, most beneficial to society kind of people that you’d ever meet in your life. And had they not been given that chance, we wouldn’t have them. I wouldn’t have a best friend.”
Bowing our knees to the abortion mob means “these are the kind of people that are not going to be here for us,” McCormick added. “You’re talking about some of your children’s best friends. You’re talking about leaders in the church … society … politics, scientists, doctors, ministers, you name it.” How we talk about life matters because we’re talking about real people — a truth easily masked by crafty language.
“Let them talk about abortion,” Perkins insisted. “We’re going to talk about unborn children and their mothers,” as well as “the person sitting next to you that wouldn’t be here if someone had not chosen life for them.”
And yet, he highlighted that Democratic campaigns like the Biden administration are focused almost solely on abortion. “What does that tell you?” he asked. “It tells me they will do anything,” McCormick replied.
“Anything that’s bad for the nation [is] bad for morality,” he pointed out. “All they care about is power. They’ll open the southern border … knowing it’s not good for the United States, but knowing it will keep them in power. … And this is just another example of how morality doesn’t matter [to them]. The future of this nation doesn’t matter [to them]. All that matters is their power. They want the government to be God. They want the government to determine morality … business … medicine … [and be] the ultimate deciding factor in your life.”
In the grand narrative, “They do not believe in the freedom of individuals or in the sovereignty of God,” McCormick concluded. So for them to get power, they prioritize abortion. But to prioritize abortion, they must separate it from the fact that unborn children are people. They must use language that strips the unborn of all dignity and deceives vulnerable women into thinking killing a child is “reproductive freedom.”
As Perkins said, the Democrats will not protect the unborn, but “if you will not protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our society, who will you protect?”
The answer is no one. And that’s precisely why the way we talk about life is essential. It is life we’re talking about, after all, and pro-life language ought to reflect that. Our language must demonstrate the truth that men, women, and all the unborn have inherent dignity, value, and meaning.
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.