The Language of Abortion

1.

Abortion.

Let the word do it’s work. Let it take you to the edge of your emotions, whatever those emotions are. Consider it. Contemplate it. Do you have any connection with it? Have you terminated a pregnancy? Has your sister? Your mother? Sit with your emotions and connections for thirty seconds.

Now, let’s begin.

2.

Abortion has found it’s way into the news cycle again, as abortion always seems to do. This time, it’s the #ShoutYourAbortion social media campaign that’s causing all the stir. I’ll not go into the details of the campaign–you can find more than a few news articles on the hashtaggery–but sufficed to say, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were burning down the internet last night with the topic of abortion. The sides were chosen and the social media war was underway. The pro-choicers were shouting their abortions while the pro-lifers were decrying them, and some were taking potshots at their opposition from behind the safety of their avatars. (Isn’t this the way of debate these days–avatar pot shots from the safety of one’s own couch?)

Though I’m not one to get too wound up about these sorts of virtual debates, one particular subset of avatars got my goat last night. You might know them betters as the abortion-is-murder subset.

3.

The abortion-is-murder subset comprises many well-meaning, Bible believing (and very genuine) folks who cling to the notion that the taking of life–any life–is murder. They speak of the murder of babies callously, vacuously, as if there were no human eyes behind the decision to terminate a given pregnancy. They wield the language of shame–millions of legal murders a year; murder, murder, murder, and not justice for the unborn. They take a prophetic tone, an icy one.

I understand the point they’re hoping to make, and perhaps I even agree with some of their underlying ideology. But how does the language of murder prick the ears of the women who’ve made the decision to terminate a pregnancy? How do the husbands of women who’ve terminated pregnancies hear it?

Last night, on my own Facebook page, I put it like this:

I am pro-life and unashamed. However, allow me this gentle reminder.

The language in which we couch the discussion matters. If you call abortion murder, you are calling the women who chose abortion murderers. And though you might fold your arms and say, “yes, Seth, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” remember this: 1 in 3 women will chose to terminate a pregnancy, and many of them will carry that decision as a secret. Your wife, sister, mother, best friend, or Bible study leader may be one of these women.

So use whatever language you want to heap shame on whomever you want. I can’t stop you. But just bear this in mind: you might be unknowingly dredging up old wounds for some of your closest friends.

Posted by Seth Haines (Writing) on Monday, September 21, 2015

4.

Consider the statistic: 1 in 3 women have chosen to terminate a pregnancy. And if Christians are humans–a belief I cling to despite some preaching to the contrary–then the fact is, you are connected with someone who’s been touched by abortion–likely a good-hearted, Christ-centered, God-fearing someone. They’ve been splayed across the table, tears in their eyes, agonizing over the decision. They’ve unfolded the bills, paid for the abortion while trying to avoid the niggling of the Spirit in their conscience. They’ve made the decision; maybe they’ve later repented. But perhaps–and this is what I want you to hear–it’s a secret they carry with them to their graves. In other words, you may not know just who in your circle has chosen abortion.

The language we use matters. If we’re hellbent on using the language of shame, hellbent on shaming the women and men who’ve made the choice to terminate a pregnancy, we’ve forgotten the Greatest Command–love your neighbor as yourself. If we’re hellbent on naming all the murderers in the great-big-out-there, we’ve forgotten the law of grace that covers a multitude of sins. If we’re hellbent on splashing our dispassionate judgments across the pages of the internet, we’ve forgotten our own humanity, made ourselves into something akin to little gods. 

If you’re pro-life–as I am–by all means work to alleviate the conditions that lead a woman to choose abortion. Be active. Be an activist. But above all, love well. Love as you would want to be loved if you had made that decision to terminate a child. Love without reserve. Love in your language. Love as a form of resistance. Yes, in all things, love.

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  • Amen. So many amens.

  • Tina Diss

    And really, who of us should cast the first stone?