I was disappointed to see the use of the political term “partial-birth abortions” regarding late-term abortions in Jonathan Turley’s July 1 Outlook essay on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s legacy, “Kennedy’s towering, teetering legacy.” Language matters because of the image it evokes. “Partial-birth abortion” evokes the image of a cute little baby being murdered while its mother is giving birth. What if, instead, a late-term abortion were called a “fetal-suffering-avoidance abortion”? The image for the same procedure is completely different, and the politics might well be completely different also.
The same principle applies to the issue of women’s reproductive autonomy. Those who want to limit women’s autonomy have seized on the term “pro-life,” leaving those working to retain women’s autonomy to claim “pro-choice” as the opposing term. Not surprisingly, “pro-choice” has come to mean “pro-death.” The image is more powerful than the logic that tells us “choice” can of course mean choosing to continue a pregnancy. The lesson here? Language matters.
Maida Schifter, Silver Spring
The July 8 front-page article “Religious liberty will help define court pick” adopted a partisan definition of “religious liberty.”
“Religious liberty” was framed as opposition to abortion rights, contraceptive coverage and same-sex marriage. In other words, “religious liberty” was defined to be the right of the government to deny women their reproductive freedom and to deny all individuals their free choice of life partner. This is the opposite of religious liberty; it is imposition of the religious beliefs of one faction on everyone. When a powerful political faction is attempting to capture policy through a loaded term such as “religious liberty,” good, fair, objective journalism does not oblige it. I am shocked that The Post has done so.
Stephen Blough, Rockville