Conception, abortion, aborticide, and the obfuscation of truth

Conception, abortion, aborticide, and the obfuscation of truth

This article explains how redefinition of 'conception' and euphemisms such as 'choice' and 'abortion' obfuscate the truth about aborticide.

By Harlan Brown
April 16, 2011

It has long been obvious that those who wish to justify killing their offspring before they are born use a euphemism to divert attention from what is being done. That euphemism is the word choice.

A euphemism: "choice"

Speaking of "the right to choose" without specifying an object for the verb obscures the nature of what is being chosen. We make choices every day. From a moral perspective, however, choosing what to eat for lunch is a much different choice from deciding whether to take an innocent human life.

The phrase reproductive choice implies an object: reproduction. However, the way that phrase is typically used does not involve choosing whether to reproduce; it involves choosing whether to kill one's offspring after reproduction has already taken place.

When a sperm fertilizes an egg, the egg and sperm cease to exist. A new life is created. These are scientific facts, not opinions.

A new meaning for "conception"

The creation of a new life was traditionally referred to as conception. Many people still use the term that way.

The 1828 edition of Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language defined conception as "The act of conceiving; the first formation of the embryo or fetus of an animal." The 1913 edtion of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defined conception as "The act of conceiving in the womb; the initiation of an embryonic animal life." In 1998 Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition defined conception as "the act of becoming pregnant" or "the state of being conceived." The 1998 edition defined pregnant as "containing unborn young within the body" and conceive as "to become pregnant with (young)" or "to cause to begin."

Unfortunately, in recent years a new definition of "conception" has come into existence which obscures the truth about when life begins. The current version of Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 11th Edition online defines conception as "the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both." This definition obscures the truth as to when human life begins.

Another euphemism: "abortion"

Amidst all the rhetoric over choice or reproductive choice, another word is often overlooked as being a euphemism. That euphemism is the word abortion.

Webster's 1828 dictionary defined abortion as "The act of miscarrying, or producing young before the natural time, or before the fetus is perfectly formed." Abortion was synomymous with miscarriage, and the word aborticide was not in the dictionary.

Webster's 1913 edition defined abortion as "The act of giving premature birth; particularly, the expulsion of the human fetus prematurely, or before it is capable of sustaining life; miscarriage." Aborticide was defined as "The act of destroying a fetus in the womb; feticide." In 1913 the intentional killing of a fetus was called aborticide, not abortion.

By 1968 the original meaning of abortion remained, but a new meaning was added. The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defined abortion as "The expulsion of a fetus prematurely; miscarriage" and "A miscarriage produced artificially, especially as an illegal operation." That dictionary defined miscarriage as "A premature delivery of a nonviable fetus" and aborticide as "The intentional destruction of the fetus in the womb." In 1968, late-term aborticide was considered infanticide, not abortion.

Dictionaries written after Roe v. Wade in 1973 expanded the term "abortion" to include aborticide at any point in the pregnancy. On Jan. 22 of that year, Justice Harry Blackman decreed in Roe v. Wade:

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.

(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.

(c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165.

On that same day, the Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton defined a mother's health so broadly that aborticide was deemed legal during all nine months of pregnancy.

Merriam-Webster's 1998 dictionary defined abortion as "the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: as  a : spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation — compare MISCARRIAGE  b : induced expulsion of a human fetus." The current online edition has the same definition. The 1998 dictionary and the current Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary do not define aborticide.

Margaret Sanger speaks to KKK gals Photo used by permission of Frederick Douglass Foundation

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, America's largest aborticide provider, speaks to a KKK rally in Silver Lake, NJ, in 1926. In her writings, she referred to blacks and poor people as "human weeds."

A more precise term: aborticide

The current Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition online defines aborticide as "destruction of the embryo or fetus in the womb." The term "aborticide" has at least two advantages over the term "abortion":
  • It does not mean "miscarriage."
  • It ends in -cide, a suffix that means "to kill."

As Norma McCorvey (the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) pointed out so eloquently in her book Won by Love, when she worked at the abortion (aborticide) industry, she was trained to dehumanize the tiny person who was being killed. The idea was to lead clients to believe that what was being removed was just a blob of tissue, not a human being.

Aborticide kills an innocent human being in violation of God's command "Do not murder." For an exposition of the biblical teaching on aborticide, see "The Bible and Abortion" by American Right to Life.

Every human being is a person with a God-given unalienable right to life. Yet each year more than one million aborticides are performed in the United States and more than 40 million worldwide. It's time to emerge from the rhetorical fog created by the Culture of Death. It's time to take an uncompromising stand for the right to life and against the aborticide holocaust.

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