The Fight Over Abortion Language and Why It’s Important

Pro-abortion advocates (never call them “pro-choice”) are attempting the herculean task of trying to alter the nomenclature of abortion to make their arguments more appealing.

For instance, instead of using the word “choice” to describe an abortion, pro-abortion advocates want to substitute the word “decision.” Why?

Because according to some, not all women have a “choice.” Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts explains.

“Choice” assumes that everyone can get an abortion, and someone just has to choose whether or not they want one. Not everyone can get an abortion when they want one. Black feminists and feminists of color have pointed out that this isn’t the case: the legal right to choose to have an abortion does not always mean someone can actually get an abortion. “Choice” ignores the lived realities of people, especially Black people and people of color, who face barriers that are often compounded by racist and classist policies that keep them from the care they need.

Josh Barro calls it “everything-is-everything framing” of an issue where no issue can ever be discussed in isolation. You must piggyback the issue on the backs of minorities, the poor, women — any group that, when mentioned, presents a shorthand word picture of a group that needs help. And if there’s one thing a leftist loves to do more than anything else, it’s to lend a helping hand — even if its not necessary.

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The changed nomenclature is being pushed by the Pro Choice Caucus in the House. It not only includes swapping out “choice” for “decision,” but also refers to “unexpected” pregnancy instead of “unwanted” pregnancy and “conscience clause/protections” as “refusal/denial of care.” Ostensibly, it’s part of a campaign to make abortion arguments more acceptable to more people. Instead, it just makes the pro-abortion crowd look silly.

The idea that blacks are hurt the most by making abortion less available was picked up by the ACLU, which listed some of the groups that would also be harmed by limiting or eliminating abortion rights.

It comes as a surprise that any rational person would claim the LGBT community is harmed in anything more than a minuscule way by an abortion ban. But that’s “everything is everything” framing.

Barro, who is pro-choice, tries to enlighten his friends in the pro-abortion movement.

If you are actually trying to win more votes, you have to deal with the fact that a majority of voters do not view abortion as a wholly morally uncomplicated act. These messaging tweaks range from useless to harmful in trying to appeal to those voters at the margin.

In this light, it’s fortunate that the switch from “choice” to “decision” is so transparently pointless — it entails throwing 50 years of branding in the toilet for no reason, but at least the terms mean the same goddamn thing. Urging politicians to say “decision” is better than urging them to call themselves “pro-abortion.” But the switch doesn’t do anything to stop abortion bans — and more broadly, an obsession with language games of the sort that interest people who spent a lot of time arguing about language in graduate school is one factor making it harder for Democratic politicians to talk in a normal way to the normal people they need to appeal to if they want to win elections. It’s just reinforcing the party’s transformation into a loser coalition for people with ill-advised masters degrees.

It’s all part of the diversity trap the left has ensnared itself in. In order to advocate for “diversity,” you can never, ever leave any group out when listing the pantheon of victims for any issue or cause. Hence, any social issue always affects the black, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBTQ communities. It’s comical — as the ACLU demonstrated — to try and shoehorn all those groups into one, grand coalition of victims. But the ideology and nomenclature demand it.

But Democrats and the pro-abortion left are missing the boat. The Republicans who are agitating for a complete, total, ban on all abortions are pushing the GOP on this issue. Most Americans support some kinds of restrictions on abortion so banning it would play right into the hands of those on the left who would love nothing better than to have ammunition in their effort to paint the GOP as extremists.

Still, trying to alter the language is pretty silly and speaks to the straitjacket the left has put themselves in.

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