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Wednesday, June 2, 2004
The Political Language of Abortion

By Steven Taylor @ 10:35 am

I love how every time that a story comes on about the partial birth abortion bill, it is de rigueur to note how doctor’s don’t use that term. Like yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered, where reporter Richard Gonzales said the following:

Well, this is the debate over what proponents call partial-birth abortion. Now doctors don’t use that term. What proponents here are targeting is a procedure called intact dilation and extraction. And it’s a very rare procedure performed only in after the first trimester. Usually, it’s done when the fetus is in a breech position; the fetus is alive. And as they deliver the body, doctors crush the fetus’ head.

Now, whether or not doctor’s call it “partial birth abortion” what better term should non-medical types use? How about “Fetal Termination via Skull Crushing"?

The medical term for “heart attack” is “acute myocardial infarction"-does this mean that every news story about heart attacks need a disclaimer that doctors don’t normally use that term?

For that matter, there are various other types of abortion with specific medical names, yet the media doesn’t point out that “doctors don’t use that term.”

Source: Transcript obtained via Lexis/Nexis.

Update: This post is part of today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

Filed under: US Politics

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  1. I cringe everytime I hear the term ’skull crushing’. Those two words should stop any compassionate doctor from performing such a procedure.

    Comment by Cathy — Wednesday, June 2, 2004 @ 12:47 pm

  2. yes, and the term for “chest pain” is angina. And yet I don’t believe I ever heard a patient come in complaining about “angina” when I worked in the ER.

    Comment by bryan — Wednesday, June 2, 2004 @ 12:50 pm

  3. Yes, AP uses the whole “doctors call it this” thing as well but they then go onto vividly describe what’s done. I just want to know if doctor’s actually explain this to women..
    “Well, we’re going to go in, suck the living baby down, then we’ll crush or puncture his skull. If necessary, we’ll then hack off any limbs and take the other parts out and we’ll send you on your way.”
    I guess intact dilation and extraction sounds a lot less barbaric.

    Comment by Zygote — Wednesday, June 2, 2004 @ 3:58 pm

  4. The whole abortion debate is filled with linguistic shenanigans. One side calls itself “pro-choice,” yet it does not favor giving taxpayers or insurers a choice as to whether they wish to fund the procedure. And the other side calls itself “pro-life,” yet many of the people on that of an issue have no problem with taking the lives of murderers or suspected terrorists.

    Comment by Eric — Thursday, June 3, 2004 @ 9:10 am

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