Penny Pullen, author of the weekly Life Advocacy Briefing, teaches pro-life terminology. From her I learned to say:

  • “pro-abortion,” not “pro-choice”
  • “aborting “mother” (and “father”), not aborting “woman” (or “man”)
  • “commit abortion,” not “perform abortion”
  • “abortionist,” not “doctor”
  • As part of her Briefing today, Penny gave a short lesson on proper terminology by which to frame the human embryo experimentation debate:

    IOWA’s LEGISLATURE HAS SENT TO THE GOVERNOR a bill endorsing sacrifice of embryonic humans for utilitarian experimentation. The bill, which is likely to be signed by Gov. Chet Culver (D), would replace Iowa’s human cloning ban and would authorize experimental cloning by another name.
    We at Life Advocacy have not been privy to the Iowa-specific debate or political changes which precipitated this about-face, but, observing the terminology used by much of the pro-life movement nationally, we regretfully predict that the fight over embryo killing is likely to be lost wherever it emerges.
    We cannot fathom why most advocates for Life speak about this issue in the same terms as are used by the amoral biotech lobby and its fellow travelers in the mainstream media. Calling this issue “embryonic stem cell research” is the equivalent of calling the abortion issue “choice,” yet this obfuscatory terminology is used consistently by those same pro-life leaders who wring their hands over the seeming inability of the public to distinguish between “adult stem cells” and “embryonic stem cells.”
    Could the confusion result from the fundamental fact that the ethical problem is not the pursuit of research on stem cells but with the killing of embryonic human beings in the process?
    Try consistently using the term “experimentation” instead of “research” and the expression “killing (or sacrificing or vivisecting or dissecting) embryonic humans” instead of “embryonic stem cells,” and see the difference in the perception of those hearing the debate. Using precise, morally expressive terminology cuts through the scientific fog, identifies the issue for what it is, and brings the public into a proper understanding of what is at stake. Is this really so hard?