Biden, Whitmer, and the a-word
Orwell: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful"

2022-04-22T13:40:10-07:00April 24th, 2022|Abortion and pro-life issues|

The abortion-friendly Washington Post recently provided a revealing look into a debate taking place in the world of abortion advocacy. The issue, in short, is whether to call abortion “abortion” or call it something else.

According to the Post’s Caroline Kitchener, the argument has heated up in response to legislative activity looking to a Supreme Court decision – expected in June – that many think will either overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion, or allow meaningful restrictions on the practice.

Until recently, conventional wisdom among abortion activists has been to sidestep naming the procedure. But now, Kitchener writes, “as Democrats seek to mobilize voters…a rhetorical divide has emerged around the one word at the center of the debate.”

“Many far-left liberals will say ‘abortion’ every time they talk about the issue, while some Democrats who will face competitive raises in 2022 and 2024 – including the president – have rarely used it, relying instead on broader terms such as ‘reproductive freedom’ and ‘a constitutional right,’” she says.

Biden, Kitchener notes, didn’t use the word in his State of the Union address but called instead for protecting “the constitutional right affirmed by Roe v. Wade.”

She quotes Celinda Lake, one of Biden’s lead pollsters in 2020, saying that “the broadest possible abortion rights coalition” requires using language people feel comfortable with. Most pro-abortion politicians, Lake says, “have realized, particularly in more marginal districts, that you should talk much more about the shared value than the medical procedure.”

Avoiding the word “abortion” isn’t the only word game abortion advocates play. Another favored tactic is the use of high-flown language to cloak the reality of what abortion actually does.

Post columnist Karen Tumulty quotes Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is currently seeking an advisory opinion from her state supreme court that abortion is a protected right under the state constitution. What’s at stake in abortion, Whitmer loftily declares, are “privacy rights, health rights, and bodily autonomy.”

The words sound swell – until you recall that what’s most directly at stake in an abortion is the life of a unique, unborn human being whom the abortion will kill.

The argument among abortion advocates over naming abortion occurs against the background of a dismayingly common corruption of language – and therefore of thought – via political propaganda, some forms of advertising, and various other more or less systematic efforts to abuse words so as to confer respectability upon things that otherwise are flagrantly unacceptable.

Lately we’ve had an especially ugly illustration in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated description of his brutal war in Ukraine as a “special military operation” or – heaven help us! – a “peacekeeping mission.”

Most individuals with reasonable intelligence and a command of the facts have no trouble discerning the obscene absurdity of rhetoric like that. But the situation is different with abortion – an issue on which people have been brainwashed by media like the Washington Post into thinking killing the unborn is an innocuous procedure serving noble ends.

Many years ago George Orwell, author of anti-authoritarian classics Animal Farm and 1984, skewered systematic abuse of language, whether calculated or merely careless, in a famous essay called “Politics and the English Language.” What he said deserves recalling in the context of outrages like abortion and Putin’s war: “Political language [and what pro-choice politicians say about abortion falls into that category] is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give appearances of solidity to pure wind.”

Orwell was an honest person. Too bad more people aren’t.
The above comes from an April 21 posting on the Catholic News Agency by Russell Shaw.

13 Comments

  1. Humpty Dumpty, a voice for the peoplex April 24, 2022 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    And, the Democrats who started the Ku Klux Klan never lynched anybody. They were simply exercising their right to tracheal stenosis.
    The narrow-minded Republican President (and a former General to boot!) sent federal troops to stop the rather popular procedure.
    When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.

    • Michael Dremel April 25, 2022 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Let us bear in mind that the Democrats of that period would, by definition, be Republicans, and vice versa. So please be aware not to collate Democrats of today with the KKK.

      • History Matters April 25, 2022 at 12:01 pm - Reply

        “By definition, be Republicans?!” You proved Humpty Dumpty’s point: words mean whatever you say they mean.
        It was the Republican Party that was founded to abolish slavery and helped President Lyndon Johnson (D) pass the voting rights and civil rights acts of the 1960’s in spite of Democrat opposition, including that of Klansman Robert Byrd (D – W. Virginia) and Bill Clinton’s mentor and hero William Fulbright (D – Arkansas), who voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act, when a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, was president. And, Fulbright refused to speak out against Governor Orval Faubus during the Little Rock Crisis. Your desire to justify racism by Democrats and label “by definition” Republicans as racist is simply not true. Of course, there have been, and are, racists in both parties.
        And, why didn’t Martin Luther King Jr. join the Democratic Party and why did Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass praise Republican presidents Grant and Lincoln?

      • don’t be weak April 25, 2022 at 12:16 pm - Reply

        I’m sure that lie gives you comfort.

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  2. won't work April 24, 2022 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I don’t think that will work

  3. Michael Dremel April 25, 2022 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Let us consider that semantics and words carry gravitas, but regrettably language is not concrete. Glottophagically, words change in meaning with time, new generations of users, etc. The word “divorce”, for example, was long ago considered gauche, a sign of someone failing in their marriage despite church and religious teachings, but no it is not so slanderous a term. Abortion was indeed and even still today one that slanders the female who procures on, no matter her motivation, and God forbid you are deemed an abortion provider, as for some that term is pejorative and indicates evil incarnate going against God’s laws (as they see it), and others view it as a medical practice so that women can choose. Let’s not fool ourselves: both sides of the argument use the same techniques to create in the listener or reader a given definition and aura, be it evil or benign. “Baby Killers” versus “Aborted Fetus” really do symbolize the same thing, but to one side it conjures feelings of fear, God’s wrath, sin, while the other is a regrettable outcome of a pregnancy that, for whatever reason, the woman determined would be difficult to bear, raise, etc. It’s all a matter of perspective and long term outcome the writer wants to transfer to the reader.

    • bohemond April 25, 2022 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Dremel give a direct answer do you believe the murder of an unborn child is a right? Yes or No.

      • Michael Joseph Dremel April 27, 2022 at 1:30 pm - Reply

        Believe it or not, I’m pro-choice, and I hope the choice is for life. There are circumstances when an abortion may be necessary and needed. I do not think that successive abortions are a right way to exercise birth control, as is done in some countries when there are limited birth control assets. That said, I do not view the abortion question as a black/white, ones and zeroes paradigm. If a woman becomes pregnant, by choice, force or accident, and she in consultation with her doctor decide to terminate the pregnancy, that is her right. I may not like her reasons, but I will not impose forced gestation on someone who does not want it, ESPECIALLY in the case of rape, incest or underage sexual encounters. You want a definitive “yes” or “no”, when the question itself has a broad spectrum of thought and beliefs attached. Your question is also posed in a rather interesting way – you do not ask if an abortion is a right, you superimpose a judgment by adding the murder of an unborn child comment. No matter how one answers, something is amiss. “Do you still beat your spouse” is another example. If you say yes, you’re guilty, if you say no, you’re guilty because someone can interpret your answer to mean that previous you were guilty. So, no, Bohemond, I will not play your game of “yes or no”. If the pro-life faction wants to truly eliminate abortion, then it certainly needs to consider giving proper sex education that’s age appropriate (and please, my high schoolers by and large find the abstinence only/purity culture protocol abhorrent), coupled with easy access to birth control. If one can eliminate becoming pregnant in the first place, then the perceived need for abortion is nearly eliminated (ttps://medicine.wustl.edu/news/access-to-free-birth-control-reduces-abortion-rates/), When abortion is legal, its rate actually goes down (https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/abortion-rates-go-down-when-countries-make-it-legal-report-n858476). So the pro-life faction can’t have their cake and eat it too: if you’re going to eliminate abortion, then you have to provide birth control.

        • Axiom April 27, 2022 at 6:41 pm - Reply

          Michael Joseph Dremel: “I would never personally own a slave, but I would never force my ethics on others who might choose to do so. There is a broad spectrum of thought and beliefs attached to the slavery issue, so who am I to judge? Oh, and with slavery being legal, the rate of people who own slaves actually goes down”. MJD, please don’t tell me you teach at a Catholic high school.

        • bohemond April 28, 2022 at 6:12 am - Reply

          Dremel you will, like most of the left, make excuses for the murder of children. But this is all academic, the Left has been pushing “sexual freedom” for decades, this is the logical result. Promiscuity is the mother of abortion. Here is a novel idea, Dremel, that you and the rest of the morally compromised left will find abhorrent, relegate sex to its God given purpose for the procreation of children inside marriage. The link you provided is utter nonsense, I believe nothing the mainstream media spews.

    • Axiom April 25, 2022 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Oh, really?

  4. Back to Craftsman April 25, 2022 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Huh. I thought a Dremel was reliably a high quality, sharp, powerful tool. Looks like I was wrong. Back to Craftsman, I guess.

  5. Francisco Ruffolo April 28, 2022 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    The left win pro democratic newspaper The Washington Post is a horrible newspaper in its pro abortion views. Why didn’t they investigate Bill Clinton over his many escapades and the tainted blood scandle using tainted blood from the Arkansas prisoners maiming and killing thousands of Canadians and Americans while he was Governor of Arkansas?

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