Posted on January 16, 2003


Choice Words

NARAL expunges abortion from its title


Daniel Clark



You can tell that someone knows his argument is wrong when he begins to dispute what the topic is in the first place. To a defense attorney who knows that his client is guilty, the trial is never about the crime that was committed. It's about childhood mental cruelty. It's about poverty. It's about social attitudes toward the defendant's ethnicity, income level, hat size, or whatever.

details, details

For such arguments to succeed -- as they tragically often do -- both the crime and the victim must be treated as inconvenient distractions from the "real issue," and thus forgotten. (Will history even remember the name of Ronald Goldman?) Pro-abortion activists, aware of their viewpoint's moral and logical deficiencies, have learned this lesson well. They discourage people from examining the issue of abortion by saying it's a "private matter." But the privacy argument doesn't wash as long as another person's life is at stake, as everyone knows is the case. Their solution is to declare that the issue of abortion is not about abortion at all. It's about "reproductive rights", "women's autonomy" or "freedom of choice."

One of the nation's leading pro-abortion groups has just carried this tactic through to its absurd conclusion. NARAL, an organization whose acronym originally stood for the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, has just changed its title for the third time. After the Supreme Court declared abortion legal in 1973, it made no sense for abortion advocates to repeal abortion laws, so the group called itself the National Abortion Rights Action League. In doing this, it was over a decade ahead of its time. It wouldn't be until the late Eighties that the rest of the pro-abortion movement caught on, and altered the semantics of the debate by turning the noun "abortion" into a mere modifier, by embracing the term "abortion rights."

Even that proved to be too uncomfortable. In 1993, NARAL softened the blow of the "A-word" by inserting another shock absorber. The organization began calling itself the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, although it didn't bother inserting a second "R." This was meant to convey the impression that abortion is but one among a wide array of concerns for NARAL. Since "reproductive rights" is becoming more widely understood to be a euphemism for abortion, however, the group would soon be perceived as the "National Abortion and Abortion Action League" -- which would be far too accurate for its members' liking.

Requiring yet another degree of separation from its cause, NARAL has now descended into almost total denial. It's acronym has been turned into a single, nonsensical word in its new name: NARAL Pro-Choice America. So conscious is the group about the grim reality of abortion that it's expunged the word from its title, even as it continues to dedicate itself to the pro-abortion cause as fervently as ever.

The press release in which the organization announces the change doesn't mention the word "abortion" even once. The new mission statement which accompanies it actually does dare to use the forbidden A-word on one occasion, but only in a context that minimizes its importance, and draws a moral equivalence between abortion and birth. The statement pledges to "secure a society that respects women's lives, health, and freedom by ensuring the full range of reproductive options, from choosing legal abortion to bearing healthy children, is available to them." So the folks at the new NARAL are in favor of the freedom to bear healthy children ... or else to have them dismembered and killed. Whichever.

The statement continues, "'NARAL Pro-Choice America' recognizes that reproductive freedom is gravely imperiled and that the best -- the only -- hope for protecting it is mobilizing an educated and motivated pro-choice majority." Oh, no! Those anti-choice zealots who have just taken over the Senate must be imperiling healthy children! Comically, that seems to be the conclusion they expect the public to draw.

NARAL's board of directors

NARAL president Kate Michelman took the don't-call-us-pro-abortion mantra too far in 1994, when she said, "We think abortion is a bad thing. No woman wants to have an abortion." She initially denied making those remarks, until Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jodi Enda reminded her that their interview had been tape recorded. NARAL is now trying to avoid recurrences of that embarrassment by removing the word "abortion" from its lexicon altogether.

An amusing illustration of this occurred at the 2000 NARAL awards banquet, which was televised on C-SPAN. The reputedly boring politically-oriented cable network suddenly becomes riveting whenever abortion is discussed, because you can see congressional debates and activist rallies without their being filtered through the news media. This means that you're likely to see and hear things that are normally shielded from public exposure. Suffice it to say, if you've never seen a ballroom full of people drink a champagne toast to abortion, you're missing out on one of the more mind-blowing experiences of your lifetime.

The participants didn't describe it that way, of course. The speakers at the banquet made it clear to all in attendance that their cause was "choice," not abortion. Michelman voiced concern that public opinion was turning against "choice," because NARAL hadn't sufficiently "educated" the nation as to its true meaning. With that, she introduced a video of a new NARAL ad, which purported to demonstrate what "choice" is all about. As it turns out, "choice" is about middle-aged women swimming together, and mothers pushing their daughters on swings, and teaching them to ride bicycles. Surely anyone who would oppose it must be a cad.

Leading Democrat politicians usually speak at the NARAL banquet, but on this occasion, both presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley were at the Iowa caucuses, so their wives appeared in their stead. While Tipper Gore studiously followed the reproductive-choice-health-rights-women's-body-thingey script, Ernestine Bradley stunned the crowd by pronouncing her husband's unconditional support for abortion, of all things.

"Bill supports legal abortion," she announced. "He is in favor of public funding for abortion. He is opposed to restrictions on late-term abortion." Mrs. Bradley had deviated from the carefully written "pro-choice" script, as was revealed by the reluctant, awkward smattering of applause she received from people who -- obviously, by their very presence there -- agreed with her more enthusiastically than they were willing to let on.

It hasn't always been this way. While pro-abortion activists have always used insipid cliches to deceive others, they used to recognize among themselves that that's what they were doing. They were creating a separate but parallel vocabulary for public consumption, much in the same way that a mob accountant draws up a second set of books for the government.

NARAL co-founder Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who many years since has defected to the anti-abortion side, discussed his former group's production of "pro-choice" terminology with WorldNetDaily. "I remember laughing when we made those slogans up," he said. "They were very cynical slogans then, just as all of these slogans today are very, very cynical." The pro-abortion movement has become so cynical, in fact, that its members don't even trust themselves to discuss the issue. To illustrate this, try contrasting NARAL with another major political organization, active in another of our nation's most polarizing issues.

Imagine the NRA removing the word "Rifle" from its title, and encouraging its members to discuss its cause only in ethereal concepts, while conspicuously minimizing the use of the word "gun." Imagine Wayne LaPierre proposing to "educate" the American people about the "true meaning" of Second Amendment rights, by introducing a video of a man pitching wiffle balls to his son in the backyard. Imagine if Charlton Heston had said, "Guns are bad things. No person wants to ever own or fire a gun," but then remained president of the NRA for almost another decade.

Dr. Hern's associates

In that context, such behavior would border on slapstick. Members of the NRA, like those in just about every other organization related to public policy, are convinced that their cause is factually, morally and constitutionally right. What sets most pro-abortion activists apart is that they don't for a second believe they're in the right. Rather, they know that they're wrong, but they've concluded that it somehow behooves them to think the wrong thing.

So immersed are they in denial that when they hear the rhetoric of one of their movement's true believers, like Ernestine Bradley, they react as if she were speaking another language ... which isn't far from the truth. These days, you almost need a "pro-choice"-to-English dictionary in order to relate the terminology with its meaning. It's come to the point where the people who perform abortions refuse to even be called "abortionists" any longer. Dr. Warren Hern of Colorado is a third-trimester abortion specialist. There's no denying that his job consists of killing fully formed human babies in some of the most inhumane ways possible. Yet his feelings are hurt by being called an "abortionist" because it is a "demeaning, degrading term that conveys evil and disgrace."


Sycophantically, the media accommodate such blubbery by using more cumbersome and less accurate terms like "abortion doctor," which could just as easily apply to a doctor who treats a woman for what her abortionist has done to her. New York Times headlines have even used the term "abortion rights doctor," as has Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Sally Kalson. As this trend continues, we can expect to see butchers like Hern called things like "choice doctors" and "reproductive freedom doctors" before much longer.

The rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement, by contrast, has been consistent over the decades. A human fetus is a person, and it is deprived of its God-given, constitutional right to life when it is killed during an abortion. Nobody who opposes abortion has any need to dream up a new vocabulary to replace words like abortionist, fetus, person and kill. These are perfectly useful words that everybody understands. The only reason anyone would have to change them would be deception.

That's why abortion advocates are constantly devising new terminology; and the fact that they're doing it more rapidly than ever means they're afraid that reality is catching up to them. Once a term they've invented is understood to mean the same thing as its plain English predecessor, they have to introduce a new term to conceal the old one. Since they must stay one step ahead of the public's understanding of them, one deception necessarily begets another. They create a diversion, to distract from the obfuscation, that covers up the lie.

It's only fitting that NARAL and the rest of the pro-abortion movement are willing to twist and mutilate the English language in this manner. For them to do so serves as an analogy for the respect they have for the integrity of the human anatomy.



Return to Shinbone

 The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press 


Mailbag . Issue Index . Politimals