They’ve been used to rally troops and comfort widows as well as incite violence and intimidate opposition. Words inspire and illuminate, but they also deceive and distort. Words are powerful.
When it comes to moral issues, the stakes are high. Words can be used to either reveal or conceal evil. Someone once said, “When words lose their meaning, people lose their lives.” This dictum is no more obvious than in the abortion debate.
Abortion advocates are brilliant at playing word games. Using clever rhetorical moves, they are able to make protecting preborn children look bad and killing preborn children look good. Here’s an example.
More and more abortion proponents are referring to their opponents as “pro-forced birth” or “forced-birth extremists.” This label is designed to deceive by focusing on two words: force and birth. First, they want you to think pro-lifers are the ones using force. After all, they claim, pro-life people are taking away pregnant women’s freedom by forcing them to carry a child. On this view, pro-choice means pro-freedom and pro-life means pro-force. Second, they want you to think pro-lifers are merely pro-birth. That is, they only care about unborn humans until they’re born. After birth, they don’t matter.
The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil employed this rhetoric in a recent Instagram post. She wrote,
Not pro-life. Pro forced birth. That’s the correct terminology for anyone who discards the life, health, mental well-being, survival and freedom of the living… for the unborn. Who they will then equally disregard the human rights of once born.
This post has over 230,000 likes. That means a lot of people are persuaded by this use of language. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. Let me show you.
Deceptive Terminology Twists Truth
First, notice how this characterizes pro-life proponents as “forcing” something (i.e. birth) on pregnant women against their will. This is not a coincidence. It’s by design. One cannot help but think of other horrific examples of forcing people to do things against their will. Forcing a woman to have sex against her will. Forcing a man to work for you against his will. Forcing a child away from her family against her will.
When abortion advocates use the words “pro-forced birth,” they want you see a parallel to “pro-forced sex” or “pro-forced slavery.” This deceptive rhetoric tries to manipulate people into calling good evil and evil good. Unfortunately, it seems to be working.
In reality, pro-lifers aren’t forcing women to do something. Rather, they are telling them not to do something (i.e., do not kill another human being). This might be better described as restraining evil by threat of punishment.
We do this all the time, by the way. What pro-lifers are advocating here is nothing more than what ordinary people advocate when they restrict behavior that endangers the lives of other humans. For example, nobody seriously complains about being restricted to 25 miles per hour in a school zone with kids all around. People don’t protest because this restriction protects the lives of innocent children.
Calling someone “pro-forced birth” is a lot like calling someone “pro-forced speed limit in a school zone.” Both want to restrict acts that bring harm to innocent humans—whether unborn or born.
So, first, abortion advocates use the language of “force” to twist truth. This rhetoric makes it sound like pro-lifers are the ones doing something wrong—forcibly causing some wicked act against pregnant women. The truth is just the opposite. They are trying to prevent a wicked act—the forced killing of an innocent human being. This leads to my next point.
Who’s Really Forcing?
Second, abortion is the “force” option—literally, pro-forced death. Let me explain.
“Pro-forced birth” is an inappropriate way to describe pro-lifers—those trying to prevent the killing of unborn human beings. But it’s also a strange way of characterizing birth. After all, birth is a natural consequence of a natural process. The result of an uninterrupted, healthy pregnancy is childbirth. No external force necessary.
Abortion, on the other hand, is the use of deadly force—an unnatural intrusion of lethal force against an innocent human being into the very space perfectly designed for the baby’s safe, natural development. Forcing a flood of poisonous fluid into a woman’s uterus to chemically burn a baby to death. Forcing a sharp scalpel into the brain of an innocent child and dismembering her in utero, then forcing forceps to remove her body parts piece by piece.
Every elective abortion uses deadly force to kill a human being. Every successful abortion ends with a dead human. Thus, abortion is pro-forced death. And that’s not rhetoric. That’s fact.
Isn’t it interesting, then, how proponents of the “pro-forced death” position try to saddle pro-lifers with the manipulative language of “force”?
However, once we pull back the veil on the rhetorical game that’s being played, we can clearly see what’s really going on.
One more thing. Some lies are repeated so often, people uncritically accept them as true.
Abortion advocates often describe pro-lifers as only caring about humans before birth but not after. This is demonstrably false. Pro-life people around the world are actively involved in efforts to help the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, build orphanages, fight sex trafficking, and all kinds of other humanitarian work.
And, for the record, there are more nonprofit, pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in this country—funded by the generous financial gifts and unpaid volunteer help of pro-lifers—than there are for-profit, abortion centers—funded by fees gathered from killing unborn humans and from tax dollars.
So, pro-lifers aren’t “pro-force,” and they aren’t merely “pro-birth.” And they certainly aren’t “pro-forced birth.” This is a deceptive language.
When it comes to moral issues, like abortion, we must always be alert for the word games, rhetorical ploys, and manipulative language that distort the truth and make something evil look good.