I’ve been thinking about political correctness lately. A lot. And in this context: When, as a civilization, we finally understand that abortion is a violation of human rights, what will we call unborn children?
You know what I mean. There are many things we don’t call people anymore. If you’ve watched The Wizard of Oz lately, you’ve likely had to shield your child’s eyes as the credits rolled. Do you know how they referred to those actors who played the Munchkins?
I think fetus will be the new F-word. I also think I have too much time on my hands.
Rebecca adds: Claude Lantzmann’s Shoah, a very long documentary about the Holocaust that included many interviews with perpetrators (not all of whom knew they were being filmed) contains many fascinating and frightening insights. One of the smaller, but telling, details is that the workers in death camps referred to their victims as figuren – my professor translated that as “mannequins” or “dolls”. It conveys the physical shape of a person, but ascribes no value, soul, or life to it. For all but the most evil Nazis, this sort of reification of humans was necessary if they were to carry out their grim tasks.
Unborn children don’t even get the courtesy of an acknowledgment of their basic nature. They’re called “products of conception,” or “a cluster of cells,” the latter as apt a description of a tumour, or an unsightly mole, and by implication something to be disposed of as readily as a tumour or mole. I don’t think “fetus” is necessarily problematic – my doctor calls it a “patella” even though almost everyone thinks of it as a “kneecap” – but there’s no question the word is often used to achieve distance. How about even referring to them as “human fetuses”? A fetus is a developing life; we use the same word for all mammals in utero. I’d settle for that small step towards taking an honest look at what it is that is being destroyed in an abortion.
Andrea adds: I have heard someone else use the terms “embryonic child”, “fetal child”, etc. which I like. It’s scientific, accurate and personable–allows us to consider that’s how we all began… we’re all people in different stages of life. We evolve, so to speak.by