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"The Signs of the Times"

Deadly Euphemisms

This article is an interesting read. It would be amusing, if it was not so tragic.

Those promoting the culture of death are adept at euphemisms. Like talk of such things as reproductive rights (read: abortion). This just shows the work of the evil one who likes to present himself as an angel of light. Thus darkness becomes light, wrong becomes right, and evil becomes good. Now in order to suppress the pro-lifers from speaking the bare truths, the anti-lifers come up with the doctrine of hate speech. Whenever, for example, you say something negative about homosexuality, then you are a bigot and are promoting hatred. The anti-lifers are now busily getting laws enacted that penalize such "hate speech."

But we know that it is the truth that sets us free. So we Christians just continue to speak the truth. Let us not fall into the anti-lifers trap or play the game according to their rules. Let us call a spade and spade, and abortion as precisely what it is -- a holocaust on the unborn, an intrinsic evil, a diabolical work of the devil.

God bless.


Abortionists as Euphemists – the Curious Case of the Shifting Language

Column by John Jalsevac

January 9, 2009 ( - Most abortionists are euphemists. By which I mean merely, to quote Chesterton, “that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, however obviously they mean the same thing.”

If, for instance, you say to an abortionist, “The excessive burden upon the mother, particularly in light of the rights to autonomy, privacy and reproductive freedom, of an unplanned pregnancy precludes any ethical objections to surgically removing the products of pregnancy post-viability, but prior to completion of delivery,” a gentle, indeed a radiant smile will cross his face, and he will dose off as if to a lullaby.

Say, on the other hand, in a forceful, straight-forward way, “Crush the skulls and suck out the brains of your children!” and he will leap from his seat, startled and full of objections.

But the two sentences mean precisely the same thing.

Or, if you were to say, “An analysis of the cost-benefit ratio of carrying to term a fetus found via amniocentesis to have non-disjunction of the 23rd chromosome invariably leads to the conclusion that medical resources would be better allocated by discontinuing the pregnancy,” your average abortion supporter will sway like a child borne carelessly upon the waves of a warm summer sea.

But unapologetically bellow forth the declaration, “Save money! Kill all the disabled kids!” and you will get a very different reaction indeed. But, once again, cold logic says that the two propositions propose precisely the same thing.

Abortionist literature is chock full of a million similar instances. Pro-abortion writers keep a whole stash of such long words at their disposal, which are ushered forth to carefully hide the tracks of any stray meaning that might have crept into their sentences.

I need only reach out my hand and grab the mostly excellent book “What to Expect When You are Expecting,” which my wife, who is pregnant with our first child, has been reading.

On pages 42 and 43 we find information about prenatal diagnosis and we are told that in case of fetal abnormalities there are two options: to continue the pregnancy or to terminate the pregnancy. Already, I would argue, we have taken our first steps into the weird world of abortionist euphemisms with the ambiguous and oddly mechanical word “terminate.” But I won’t press the point. What especially interests me is not this, but that in the paragraph about continuing the pregnancy, we are told all about a “baby.”

But in the next paragraph, which is all about “terminating” the pregnancy, there is no mention of a baby; the baby has been completely replaced with the “products of pregnancy.” What, then, has become of the baby? Nothing at all, of course. It’s still right where it was and no matter how much they wish to do so, our illustrious authors cannot actually make the baby go away merely by changing their language; but what they can do is the next best thing – they can hide the baby, shove it behind the sofa or under the rug, like an embarrassing mess they haven’t yet had the chance to clean up, and the guests are already arriving.

In other words, they can come up with a long word. And so they come up with “products of pregnancy.” And when the “products of pregnancy” are safely and properly “terminated” we can all get on with our lives, displeased that the pregnancy did not "turn out favorable" (an actual quote from the book), but unbothered by either our consciences or any of those pesky handicapped children.

Of course, if we were to press the point and ask, “But what are the products of pregnancy?” the authors would have to respond, “A baby.” But they are hoping that no one will ask the question. And many (including, I suspect, themselves) don’t. Which is why up to 95% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are never born: because all we’re doing is “terminating” the “products of pregnancy,” and what could be wrong with that? The answer is nothing at all, unless you happen to prefer precision to muddleheadedness and replace the comfortably cumbrous word “terminate” with the uncomfortably curt “kill,” and the melodious “products of pregnancy” with the wholly unpoetic “baby.” That would leave us with “kill the baby,” or, to use another short and unpopular word, “murder.”

I recall hearing a story somewhere, told by a fellow who attended an abortion debate, where the representative of the pro-life position repeatedly spoke of “killing the unborn baby.” After the debate this fellow happened to step into an elevator full of pro-aborts, and as the elevator slid down everything was silent, until somebody soberly observed, “‘Kill the baby’ You just can’t argue with that.” If the speaker had ever stopped and questioned why you can’t argue with that, he might now be pro-life.

I take another example at random. In a 2003 article published in The Nation, Katha Pollitt complained that “anti-choicers” had coined what she termed the “imprecise” phrase “partial-birth abortion.” This phrase, she says, “has no precise medical meaning and cannot be found in any medical text,” but has nevertheless been widely used by the mainstream media, possibly out of a “fear of seeming too liberal” (not a fear that I myself have ever detected in the media).

Instead, Pollitt very helpfully suggest the terms "dilation and extraction" and "dilation and evacuation." These terms, she says, are much better than what she calls the “oxymoronic” phrase “partial-birth abortion,” which “with accompanying gory description - crushed skull, sucked-out brains, half-delivered fetus - was a stroke of public relations genius.”

According to Pollitt dilation and extraction (D&E) and dilation and evacuation (D&E) are the proper terms because they describe “actual methods” used for abortions in the second or third trimester. But, of course, if there is one thing that these terms do not do, it is “describe.” She might as well say that the media should always speak of “mastication” instead of “chew” and “perambulate” instead of “walk” because “masticate” and “perambulate” describe actual methods of eating and moving. The thing is absurd.

To most everybody the two D&Es convey not a thing, which is precisely how Pollitt wants it. Stop a man or a woman on the street and say to them, “Dilation and extraction. Define it!” and odds are (unless you’ve stopped a doctor or Katha Pollitt) they won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Or if you were to say to an acquaintance, “I’m going in for a dilation and extraction today,” they might smile and say, “I pray that it goes well,” and walk away with the vague sense of sympathy that we reserve for people who are undergoing obscure and technical sounding medical treatments that we don’t understand. They very probably wouldn’t at all suspect that you were about to authorize a doctor to suck out the brains of your own child.

If Pollitt really wants words that “describe” the “actual procedures” used in killing a fully formed baby moments before birth she has no option but to fall back on such things as, “punch a hole in the back of the baby’s head,” and “vacuum out the brains,” and, “crush the skull” and “corpse,” which, undoubtedly, are not nearly as long as “dilation and evacuation,” and not nearly as useful in conveying absolutely no meaning at all.

However much Pollitt may object, she will have to face the fact that if medical doctors applied the standards she is advocating to every other medical procedure, all the patients in our hospitals would be extremely confused. If Pollitt fell ill, for instance, and her physician would only tell her that she had Retroperitoneal Fibrosis (an actual name for a condition found in medical textbooks) and that they would have to remove the “products of the illness,” I’m sure Pollitt would be quite put out. She would certainly want to know what the “products of the illness” are and how they are to be removed. But in her world the doctor would merely cluck his tongue at her plebian ignorance and get on with the thing.

So far I have only discussed euphemisms in the abortion debate. But you will find that whenever a “progressive” bioethicist or politician is doing something naughty and not at all popular, they will create a host of long words to ensure that they are misunderstood by everybody except their like-minded colleagues. At the beginning of this piece I quoted Chesterton on this issue. The thing is that Chesterton was not himself writing about abortion, but about eugenics - another horror which very erudite and progressive scientists and politicians were attempting for foist on the British at the time, always under the cover of long words and sentences. And so it is with most every other branch of the culture of death, whether it be abortion, eugenics, embryo research, and all the rest; the culture of death always makes its greatest strides under the disorienting and heady fog of ambiguity.

"For to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:21)
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