Thursday, July 22, 2004

I want to clarify
some things from my previous post.  My issue with the slippery language in the abortion debate is that reduction of emotionally charged issues to a more commodity-like discourse seems to cheapen the subject.  "Reducing the fetal calvarium" might be the clinically correct term for what's transpiring, but unless you've been exposed to the definition before (or unless you really stop and think about what it's actually denoting), you won't understand that this means crushing the skull of a fetus just prior to delivery in a partial birth abortion.

What's the problem?  Clinicalization (if that's a word) of terminology allows compartmentalize and separation from any emotional content.  An extreme example:  Nazis involved in the "Final Solution" (itself an obfuscating construction) regularly discussed the transport and extermination of Jews and other undesirable in terms that made it sound as if they were transporting cattle, coal or any other commodity.  The notion that human lives were being ended was completely removed from their discourse by careful control of their terminology.  (For the record, I am not trying to say that abortion providers or supporters are like Nazis; I have a better sense of history than that.  I am merely pointing out extreme depths to which control of language can completely shape discourse.  If you still think I'm trying to say they're one-in-the-same, that's your problem.)

One of my concerns in the abortion debate, which I alluded to in my previous post, is that it's becoming no more taxing on the emotions than having a tooth pulled (or an appendectomy, as I put it yesterday).  I think having an abortion should be a hard decision.  It shouldn't be something done on a whim, or in the rather blase fashion exhibited by the woman in the article I linked to yesterday.  It should be something that's done as a last resort, and done after much soul-searching and agonizing over the consequences (physical, emotional and psychological).

I heard rumors in high school about a couple of young women who had already had three or four abortions each by the time they graduated, and all indications were that they were using the procedure as a form of birth control (one wonders how many they've had by now).  That bothered me then, when I was far more liberal than I am now.

The reduction of abortion to purely clinical terms can only serve to make situations like that more commonplace.   And that disturbs me.


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