By Joshua Arnold
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Luke 1:42 should read, “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the fetus leaped in her uterus.” Does that sound too extreme? Uncharitable? Check out their “Guide to Language and Abortion” released this month. It argues against using terms like “baby” or “unborn child” because “centering the language on a future state of a pregnancy is medically inaccurate.” They say doctors should instead use “embryo” through eight weeks, and then “fetus.” Another term declared off-limits is “womb” because it “is a non-medical term that can be used to apply an emotional value to a human organ.” They prefer “uterus.” Combine these unnecessary word substitutions with the bible verse, and you get the above, ridiculous result.
What’s so “non-medical” about “womb,” which means an organ in which a baby develops? What is “medically inaccurate” about “baby”? The Latin root of their preferred alternative, “fetus,” is “an endearing term” which “means offspring or little one,” said FRC’s Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Life and Human Dignity. But most people wouldn’t know that. Szoch compared ACOG’s guide to high school English students who would “go into Microsoft Word. They would right click and hit that helpful synonyms tool” to try and avoid plagiarism or sound smarter. “It seems like that’s what ACOG did.”
ACOG recommends replacing short, known words with elongated, incomprehensible expressions. Thus, “heartbeat” becomes “cardiac activity.” “Dismemberment” becomes “disarticulation.” “Partial-birth abortion” becomes “intact dilation and evacuation.” Can doctors only accurately describe situations in jargon? Or do long, Latin words obfuscate (aka hide) the true meaning?
For some terms on its blacklist, ACOG can only resort to contradictions. “The abortion procedure is not a surgery,” arguing against “surgical abortion.” But it objects to “dismemberment ban” by describing “a recommended method for an abortion procedure,” which involves inserting forceps into the mother’s body to pull out the baby, either whole or in parts, a method eerily like a surgery. Again, they claim “abortion-on-demand,” dismisses “medical needs.” But earlier they practically admit to non-medical reasons for abortion in calling “elective abortion” unnecessary discrimination.
The ACOG guide even includes the boogeyman it condemns: medical inaccuracies. “Abortion does not happen” in the last weeks of pregnancy, it argues. But “ACOG’s own website says that they oppose restrictions on partial-birth abortion,” said Szoch. Do they want more of something that doesn’t happen? Furthermore, ACOG claims “there is no recognizable ‘heartbeat'” early in pregnancy because the heart isn’t fully developed. But Szoch noted a heartbeat “doesn’t require a fully developed heart.”
The ACOG guide represents “scientists… engaged in politics,” Szoch warned. They “completely abandoned science” and “picked up the pro-abortion ideology in its place… championing that instead of good health care.” What ACOG is really objecting to is the pro-life movement’s successful efforts to persuade Americans about the value and dignity of unborn babies. That’s why the guide heeds terms’ connotations, not just accuracy. Thus, “chemical abortion… is a biased term designed to… sound scarier….” “‘Dismemberment’ is intentional use of inflammatory, emotional language.” The term “abortion provider… perpetuates the myth that they are not medical experts….” “Partial-birth abortion” is called “graphic, inflammatory language.” “Abortion-on-demand… is dismissive….” Is this political messaging or scientific facts?
Of course, ACOG would never suggest their members “not refer to wanted babies as babies,” said Szoch. “Only when the child is not wanted” do they “want doctors specifically to dehumanize that child.” They wouldn’t openly endorse calling John the Baptist — or Jesus, for that matter — a “fetus” in the “uterus.” So why do they recommend it for other unborn babies?