Skip to comments.Nat Hentoff: Abortion and the English language
Posted on 12/05/2006 1:32:50 PM PST by Caleb1411
Thanks to C-SPAN, a vital public service, I was able to see and hear on Nov. 8 the two hours of oral arguments at the Supreme Court on one of the most persistently passionate controversies in the nation partial-birth abortion; or, as its medical practitioners call it, intact dilation and extraction.
What fascinated me throughout the debate and the reactions of the justices was, as George Orwell put it, the way language can be, and is so often used, "as an instrument which we shape for our own purposes." Only rarely did any participant speak plainly about the procedure.
In his essay "Politics and the English Language," Orwell said, "What is above all needed (in honest speaking) is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about."
During the two hours, I often heard references to "fetal demise." What they were actually talking about, some of us would say, is the killing of a human being.
That plain intent of abortion slipped in briefly when Solicitor General Paul Clement, speaking for the government, said the important issue is whether this form of abortion "is to be performed in utero or when the child is halfway outside the womb."(A child? Where?)
Justice John Paul Stevens quickly interrupted: "Whether the FETUS is more than halfway out," he corrected the solicitor general.
"Some of the fetuses, I understand in the procedure," Justice Stevens added, "are only 4 or 5 inches long. They're very different from fully formed babies."
Babies had again crawled into the discussion but not for long. The abortion procedure at issue is D&X, intact dilation and extraction, which removes babies from existence. Years ago, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was for abortion rights, nonetheless called this D&X procedure, "only minutes
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I don't care what stage of development it's in, it's a baby human being.
True but it's not that useful as quantitative words when talking about human development. There is no difference between using embryo and fetus then using baby, child, teen, and adult. All human, different stages.
Say we were talking about drinking or smoking laws. Would you point to a kid and say "That human should not be allowed to smoke". No, if you provide the age you'd be factually correct but there are much better terms to use that would more clearly state your case and be easier to understand.
See post #23
From week 9 until birth it's called a fetus. From birth until age 2 it's a baby
So what do you call it when it's halfway out...a human being or a disposable lump of tissue?... it that border an your position relative to it what defines who is an is not human being, Legally? Scientifically? Morally?
Once upon a time the Supreme Court also decided that slaves weren't really "human." That made it OK to kill and dismember them too. The arguments are scarily parallel.
Is the fetus animal, vegetable, or mineral? If animal, the number of chromosomes will tell you what species, 23 pair would lead a reasonable person to conclude it's human.
Liberals would not hesitate to define the alive unborn as human. Their entire agenda is to promote the legal slauughter of these alive humans as a special right to certain females, while continuing to obfuscate the truth that they are extending special right to execute fellow human beings. These same ghouls will decry executing a heinous criminal, claiming it lessens our civilization to execute criminals. That these ghouls care not a whit for the aliveness of the unborn babies must never be spoken of ... kind of like the Wizard who must not be named in the Harry Potter books.
Bravo Justice Stevens! And I might add that you are 'very different' than a 14-year old male human! You speak about the unborn just like a person who has already been born!
Perhaps we should debate the 'fully formed' definition and allow that to set the parameters of allowable abortion; or in your case, an argument for 'retro-active abortion' for the 'overly' formed person, or a person who is no longer useful to society beyond eating and sleeping and listening to the sound of their own voice?
Justice Stevens could find himself as the perfect 'poster child' for euthanasia of the 'overly formed' old baby(s)...let's see, why don't you, Stevens, be the first in line. Go ahead! Step up old man!
Justice Stevens, you are worth much, much less to our human society and the future of mankind than any 7 or 8 month old on it's way into the world! What a worthless egotistical piece of old crap!
Being a woman and a mother of 3. I remember their life began in the womb. Anything else is bull. Just be a pregnant woman, you know, and if you don't you are deluding yourself!
The issue under debate however, is broader than science. I am a scientist, but I have no problem with common terminology. Most pregnant women, upon becoming aware of their pregnancy, refer to it thereafter as their "baby".
And every moment since it became a zygote, whatever the word we choose to define it, it has been a living human entity, unceasingly exhibiting the defining characteristics of a living organism, namely spontaneous, self-directed change and growth.
"spontaneous, self-directed change"
Not sure if that goes together. :)
Funny. Black's Law Dictionary says that "child" means, progeny, offspring. Unborn or recently born human being. What a pathetic old bastard Stevens is. He corrupts the language and the law.