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Fetal parts are for sale. Yep, the terrible Planned Parenthood abortionists found and tapped into a profitable market for fetal parts, especially intact forms.

This is the basic narrative inserted into the talking points of anti-abortion politicians these days after edited videos between Planned Parenthood representatives and imposter biomedical tissue brokers surfaced. Ignored was the benefit fetal tissue provides to medical research. Disregarded was the selectivity used to decide what was fit for public consumption. Much has been made of interactions that might be suspicious to outsiders of medical and scientific research environments or appeal to the emotions of the uninformed.AR headline

Planned Parenthood can sufficiently respond to the “undercover sting videos” of its medical staff discussing fetal tissue donation. The rest of us need to respond to this attempt by anti-abortion dogmatists to impose their view of the world into public policy.  The states that have initiated investigations based on the videos found Planned Parenthood in compliance with regulations. Even if one state, or several states, unsuccessfully takes action for political value or reject continued contracts with Planned Parenthood for health services, it would be a measurement of success for this false narrative. Planned Parenthood will remain open to provide important health services, but there are other issues of which we should all have concern.

Deception and Ethics

The videos were created by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which claims to be “…citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.”  Their website appears to be focused only on promoting anti-abortion viewpoints, no other medical ethics issues. End-of-life treatment, organ donation processes, and equality in accessing medical care are among the top ethical issues one would expect to see mentioned.ethics

Why the deception when it would have been perfectly acceptable for CMP to identify itself as abortion opponents with specific, legitimate ethical questions pertaining to abortion and fetal tissue?

Honesty and integrity are critical to discussions about ethical issues.  Would abortion clinic representatives talk openly with abortion opponents? I and many others certainly have on many occasions in our roles as reproductive healthcare professionals. Did the CMP even attempt to arrange a discussion? If the intent of the “undercover” effort was to learn about the involvement of some Planned Parenthood affiliates with fetal tissue procurement, it was not necessary for CMP to engage people by misrepresenting themselves as biomedical professionals. Why just Planned Parenthood and no other providers of elective, therapeutic, and emergency abortions? Hospitals and other medical facilities play a significant role in tissue procurement, which can seem quite unsavory to outsiders.

abortion safeApparently deception and fabrication are a preferred method of operation within anti-abortion activism. Deception and fabrication are the hallmarks of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, also known as fake abortion clinics because of the their strategy to appear as if they are abortion clinics and use misinformation to dissuade women from abortion once they arrive for their “abortion appointment.”  Anti-abortion literature distributed to Congress, the media, and the public also contains incorrect, distorted, and often manufactured information. This is how the public at times believes that most abortions are late term. Or have murky ideas about parental consent for abortion in which it is compared to unrelated issues that are often guided by business policies, not laws.

It is no surprise that deceptive tactics were used to generate the storyline about fetal tissue procurement. It is nonetheless striking that there is not outrage about the deception, especially when ethics is the alleged target. Clearly, acquiring and providing information about fetal tissue procurement would not generate outrage if done without the theatrics of imposter biomedical professionals and video editing skills. Do we really want topics of importance to be introduced to public discourse in this manner? Of course not. The media would serve the public well to fully investigate the “investigators” and bring political balance to that part of the story. The notion that an organization like CMP, with a Postal Annex rented address no record of prior work as a nonprofit in the medical ethics arena, and leadership comprised of people connected to anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue, can have traction in promoting political ideology as if it was credible news or journalism is frightening. The media failed by not scrutinizing the source before doing the reporting, especially since another group, Life Dynamics, attempted to do the same in the late nineties.

For the record, pro-choice people resorted to deception to “out” the Crisis Pregnancy Center’s fake abortion clinic charades. Why? Because CPCs claimed that they informed women that they did not perform abortions, provided factual information, and other practices did not square with what women had shared with actual medical professionals.  A hidden camera sent in by the media with a young woman proved that the experiences of other women were accurately presented.

Using the Mistruths as Truths to Further the Mistruths

Talk radio stars Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh all regularly speak of the CMP as if it is a credible nonprofit out there doing good work.  Politicians, including U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and those running for president, refer to the videos time and again as if they were part of a documentary. Absolutely nothing revealed in the videos is evidence of anything sinister. At worst, the videos illustrate the seeming insensitivities that can develop when people work in medical settings. wd

Right wing websites are having a great time exaggerating the video content and piling on more false or misleading information. Red State claims that Planned Parenthood was “…caught…appearing to haggle over the sale of aborted baby parts.” Haggling? Not hardly. The videos revealed explanations, in clinical and business tones, about how tissues and parts are procured. Bear in mind that CMP presented themselves as biomedical professionals interested in obtaining fetal tissue. Would it have somehow been acceptable for responses to exclude information about quality of parts and associated costs?

Comments made by elected officials can be perceived as the truth. Thus, when Senate newcomer Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) states, “Planned Parenthood is harvesting the body parts of unborn babies,” to explain her sponsorship of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, perceptions are broadly formed and shared throughout every possible medium. The tone of Ernst’s statement can conjure so many images that only perpetuate incorrect information. When Breitbart News quotes a Ted Cruz comment that the videos show Planned Parenthood representatives “confessing to multiple felonies,” it misleads, misinforms, and further polarizes people on the basis of ideology as opposed to facts. Shame on all who have made, and are continuing to make, comments implying that the videos exposed evidence of crime. Shame on all who are giving the CMP credibility, so much credibility that there are threats to shut down the government if Planned Parenthood is not defunded.

Fetal Tissue Research is Ethical and Beneficial

There has always been a market for anatomical and biological goods, including human fetal tissue and parts.  Specific companies respond to the demand for human and animal parts. College psychology departments buy brains to teach students. Medical and scientific researchers need specimens in order to learn more about genetics or real and prospective treatment options for a range of diseases, for example. Fetal tissue/parts obtained from miscarriages and abortions have been used for decades and have led to a number of medical breakthroughs, including rubella and polio vaccines. Kimberly Leonard wrote an excellent article in the August 4, 2015 online issue of US News about the contributions of fetal tissue research. Many of us are grateful for those contributions. In the August 12, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine, lawyer R. Alta Charo stated, “A closer look at the ethics of fetal tissue research…reveals a duty to use this precious resource in the hope of finding new preventive and therapeutic interventions for devastating diseases. Virtually every person in the [United States} has benefited from research using fetal tissue.”  Quite simply, it would be unethical for medical researchers to suddenly discontinue use of fetal tissue due to politically extreme ideology.

research petri dishFetal parts are not allowed to be sold – they can only be donated with consent from pregnant women after they are removed.  If profit for fetal parts is the actual concern of CMP, their time would be better spent honestly working with regulatory agencies to determine with certainty if any inappropriate financial transactions between abortion providers and biomedical tissue businesses exist. It is certain that people of all political views on the issue would abhor such a practice.

As the dribble of videos continues, no evidence of illegal activities will be presented. Instead, ideology will be promoted with the intent to cause some to rethink their views about abortion and try to stop an organization that serves the healthcare needs of so many low-income women. The effort will fail, but in the meantime, we will all have to witness the nonsense and speak up about reality when we can.

So much has been written about the plethora of candidates running for President in 2016, particularly the mass of bodies on the Republican side. They are falling all over themselves looking for every possible vote, particularly in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire (and don’t get me started on the inordinate amount of influence those two pukey little states exert).

The candidates are attending every convention imaginable to convince that small block of special interests that they love that group dearly and will fight every day to promote their interests if they get into the White House. And, to be fair, the Democratic candidates are doing the same thing (p.s., I still don’t think Hillary is a lock).

So, it was no surprise when most of the GOP candidates recently flew down to New Orleans to kiss butt at the National Right to Life Committee’s national convention. The goal, of course, was to convince the attendees that they would be the “most pro-life President” they ever saw. Showing shrewd political acumen, the president of the NRLC, Carol Tobias, warned the convention goers that “the quickest way to defeat a pro-lifer is to fall in love with your candidate and then get your feelings hurt when they don’t win the nomination.”

Anyway, here are some highlights from the candidate’s speeches:

Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA) reminded the audience that he sponsored the federal law that banned the so-called “partial birth abortion.” Actually, I do have to give him some credit here because he really was the lead guy on that issue. Indeed, he hounded me and the pro-choice movement in general for years. “You know me; there’s no quit in this dog,” he said. “Go ahead and nominate somebody who’s just going to go along. Then try to convince yourself you’ll make a difference” (I’ve read that line several times and still don’t know what it means).

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry reminded folks that the next president might get to nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices — who could presumably overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationally. “If I have the opportunity to put justices on the Supreme Court, they will not be squishy,” said Perry. Okay, that’s pretty clear, huh?

Florida Senator Marco Rubio explained his opposition to abortion as “inseparable from the effort to reclaim the American dream … for every child,” and recalled abortion restrictions he helped pass as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. By the way, my money is on Rubio getting the nomination.

Jeb Bush, whose tenure as Florida governor overlapped Rubio’s speakership, mentioned some of the same laws in a video presentation, as he did not physically attend the convention.  Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has never held elected office, blasted abortion providers as “evil.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie supported abortion rights earlier in his career, but he is now getting close to toeing the party line. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker celebrated passage of a new state ban on most abortions beyond the 20th week of pregnancy. Yet late in his 2014 re-election campaign, he aired an ad in which he affirmed his abortion opposition while emphasizing that Wisconsin law “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has sponsored a ban on abortions after 20 weeks but some conservatives blast him for voting to confirm Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talked Thursday night about having to defend his anti-abortion stance in his interviews for medical school and Donald Trump, the flavor of the moment, did not attend but he also seems to have switched from his previous pro-choice position.   He probably does support abortion for illegal immigrants, however.

The bottom line is that, should any of these candidates win the presidency, they will be under intense political pressure to nominate a pro-life justice or two or three when the time comes. And therein lies the future of abortion rights in this country.
Every four years we hear how the next election is the most important election in our lifetimes. Well, look at the age of the justices. There ain’t no way that all of them will survive another four years. All hyperbole aside, this election may actually be the most important in our lifetimes.

Here we go again.

In the late 1990’s, when the Congress was considering banning what pro-lifers dubbed the “partial birth abortion,” there was a great debate over how often the procedure was used and in what circumstances. Pro-choice groups defended the procedure by arguing that it was used only a few hundred times a year in extreme situations, such as when the mother’s life was endangered or there was a severe fetal abnormality. Pro-lifers countered that it was used in many more cases and not necessarily in those “extreme” situations. At one point, even the relatively pro-choice media started questioning the abortion rights group’s arguments and they ultimately noted that the pro-lifers were correct. In February, 1997, in my capacity as the Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers I went public and confirmed that the procedure was more widely used than pro-choicers had admitted. I took this terrifying step because I had grown tired of our movement being afraid to talk about the actual abortion procedure and for constantly “apologizing” for abortion by emphasizing the tougher cases. My remarks created national headlines and great consternation for my movement but I – and the providers I represented – felt better that the air had been cleared.

And now, pro-choice columnist Dana Milbank wrote a piece this weekend that relives – and ignores – history.

He notes that a short while ago, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham (running for President) introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. This is not a new concept. Bills like this one have been introduced in many states and the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a similar bill. To his credit, Milbank castigates Graham and his proposal and he points out that banning abortions after 20 weeks will only affect a small percentage of abortions. Fair enough. But, in a case of déjà vu all over again, he felt compelled to add that “those are often the most difficult cases, such as the woman who discovers late in pregnancy that she has cancer.”

If he was just talking about abortions after 24 weeks, then his statement would be true because those abortions can only be performed if there are exigent circumstances, i.e., serious health implications, life endangerment and, in some states, fetal abnormalities. And yes, post viability abortions constitute an extremely small percentage of the abortions in this country. But, repeating the mistakes of the past, Mr. Milbank totally ignores those abortions performed between 20 and 24 weeks where there are basically no restrictions and women need not offer any reason for their having their abortions.

Between 20 and 24 weeks, a woman can walk into a clinic (assuming she can find one that performs those later abortions) and have an abortion, no questions asked. Now, the reality is that in most situations a women will voluntarily talk about why she is having the abortion but that’s as far as it goes. She could walk into a clinic at 21 weeks, go through counseling, get her medical check-up, not say another word and have the abortion.

And, as far as I’m concerned, that’s okay. There is no need to apologize. The Supreme Court in 1973 said those were the rules, end of story.

But, no, as always many in the pro-choice movement do not want to fess up that there are woman out there who just want an abortion dammit – and instead they keep focusing on the hard cases which make for good media sound bites but do not necessarily reflect the real world experience of thousands and thousands of women.

The silence is almost deafening.

The other day, as I was holed up in my house during a horrendous thunderstorm, I took out some old scrapbooks and ran across a bunch of yellowed articles from the days when I ran the National Coalition of Abortion Providers. I got a little nauseous when I read the headlines in USA Today (“Abortion Doctor Murdered in Pensacola”) and other periodicals recounting the days in the mid-1990s when our doctors were being assassinated on a regular basis. I recalled how it almost got to the point where I wasn’t surprised when I got the call.

That’s how it was on the morning of October 24, 1998 when clinic owner Susan Hill (now deceased) called me and, in that sweet Southern accent, said “well, they got another one.” My pulse barely quickened, I knew exactly what she meant. I soon learned that it was Doctor Bart Slepian, a good friend who performed abortions in Buffalo. The only thing that was different this time was this doctor was in the “sanctity” of his home and was killed in front of his children. James Kopp had positioned himself in Bart’s back yard and just fired. This might not come out right, but I think somehow we had come to accept that a doctor might get murdered in their clinic which was the “battleground.” But, now, even standing in your own kitchen was not safe. Over the next few months, my young boys insisted that the blinds be drawn at night in our house. On that day, though, upon hearing the news of Bart’s death, I simply drove into my office and issued an “Emergency Alert” to our clinics across the country informing me of the latest murder of one of their colleagues. Just going through the drill.

Then, for many years, there was silence.

For almost 11 years, not one doctor was murdered by a pro-life assassin. At NCAP, our focus started to change from what kind of bullet proof vests were the best value to how to advertise your services on the Internet. The security detail at our conventions was reduced, attendees didn’t look at every stranger as a potential assailant. Oh, to be sure, at the clinics they still took precautions but you can only stay on Red Alert for so long and you start to let your guard down.

Then, the silence was shattered.

Six years ago today, on May 31, 2009, the target was Doctor George Tiller. George performed third trimester abortions in Wichita, Kansas and was shot in the head as he performed his usher duties at his local church. Shot in his church? WTF? The telephone lines burnt up that day. By that time I had left NCAP but I was still plugged in and George had been a good friend as well. On several occasions we had talked about the possibility of his being assassinated one day and while he took the threat seriously, he was not obsessed with the possibility. So, when the call came from an old friend telling me he had been killed, we cried. But despite the tears, I have to say it was not a shock. The venue was a shock, perhaps, but not the actual act. George had always been a potential target. And he knew it.

That was six years ago today.

And in those six years, not a peep.

Daily BeastNational Right to Life, Family Research Council, and other anti-abortion organizations have been enthusiastically spreading the word about a study published in the New England Medical Journal showing that a fetus can be viable if born at 22 weeks gestation with advanced medical intervention. A New York Times article about the study was very clear that survival was for a “tiny minority” and that 24 weeks remains the medically and scientifically accepted point of viability.  Nonetheless, as all sides in politically polarized issues tend to do, abortion opponents have focused on sharing the headline of the study and not the details. Although coincidental, the publication of the study is perfectly timed with the U.S. House of Representatives passing the 20-week abortion ban, which the Senate will now consider.

Predictably, those who oppose abortion see the study as the proof needed to ban late term abortions, also suggesting that viability age should be lowered. They are appealing to our hearts through survival babies, giving the false impression that at 22 weeks most fetuses can survive outside of the womb. Many who believe that late term abortions must be legally available might even agree with them if the study was conclusive. It is not.

There are important medical-scientific limitations to babies born before 24 weeks. When pregnant women either go into labor early or a medical complication otherwise comrpomises the pregnancy, doctors discuss available medical interventions and the prospective outcomes of each on the fetus. Not all hospitals have the technology or equipment most able to produce a live birth and not all parents choose to have those interventions. Indeed, it is those very women who may choose a late term abortion to save their own lives or spare their wanted child a life of poor health. Much as they felt joy at being pregnant, life offered them a heartbreaking complication. No one has the right to judge the decision they make, certainly not Congress or political opponents of abortion.22 week fetus

In a column for the Daily Beast, Cornell Professor of Pediatrics Jeffrey Perlman noted in more eloquent terms that the study had serious biases and design flaws and should not lead to lowering the age of viability. For that to make sense, a randomized study with and without medical intervention would be necessary. Perlman also pointed out that the research would have to account for  a range of factors, such as gender differences in fetal development and accurate estimates of the age of the fetus to name a couple.

I am personally very grateful for the medical advances that have made it possible for premature babies to survive and live healthy, productive lives. I have significant reservations about the use of technology to force life too early to ensure health and quality, just as I do with sustaining life too long when people are confined to a bed with no consciousness and only technology allowing them to breathe.  All of us know of children born with disabilities or conditions that require lifelong care. That happens and to full term as well as premature babies. Families accept and embrace the children, adjusting and growing with the child. The acceptance that society places on these children and the value they place on supporting them and their families is evident through public policies, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and various educational reforms.

If a 22-week-old fetus can receive medical assistance and survive, how should medical experts and ethicists respond in the future, if at all, to the prospect of lowering the stage of viability if technology continues to advance? Are we concerned about the financial and social/personal costs associated with using the technology? There are high costs for the medical technology and there are high costs to care for babies born so early that they must receive medical care throughout life however long or short. What about 22-week gestational stage babies born addicted to drugs? Are we going to complain about the public assistance their moms receive? Will Congress thwart programs that support the care for these babies?

Doctor with laptop and pregnant woman in doctor's officeFor pregnant women in the wrenching situation of unexpectedly delivering a 22-week-old fetus, this study might offer hope if they happen to be at a hospital with the technology and expertise to offer medical intervention that might allow survival of the fetus. For other pregnant women, if this study is improperly used for political gain, and it already is**, instead of hope, it will further erode their options to make decisions they consider best for them and the baby they wanted and may even allow a physician to place priority on the life of the fetus over the woman. Which life is more important?

Instead of having implications for late term abortions and viability, the real issues to come from the study involve ethics and social support. A 22-week-old fetus is not naturally viable. An abortion at 20-22 weeks gestation may well save a woman’s life or spare a baby a life of pain. Nothing has changed in that regard.

** 5/15-15 update: Political misuse of the study has begun. See http://black.house.gov/press-release/rep-black-lauds-upcoming-house-vote-pain-capable-unborn-child-protection-act and http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/opinion/an-abortion-bans-bogus-arguments.html?_r=0

It seems that pro-lifers just can’t wait for an ambulance to arrive at an abortion clinic.

I was glancing at some newsletter recently and there was yet another grainy picture of an ambulance in front of a facility in Texas and the headline was something like “Another Women Injured at Women’s Health Services.” The accompanying article seemed to relish the fact that there was an emergency at the local abortion facility.

Let’s get something straight here. Abortion is surgery. Actually, it is one of the safest surgical procedures that one can perform, particularly when done in the early stages of the pregnancy. In fact, there is a plethora of evidence that shows that giving birth is much more dangerous than having an abortion. But, over the years, the pro-choice folks have been reluctant to raise this issue because it could be interpreted to mean that we favor abortion over childbirth. And don’t me started on that one.

So, abortion is very safe but, let’s face it, accidents do happen. Doctors – including abortion doctors – are human, nurses are human, anesthesiologists are human And, yes, patients are human in that they sometimes do not reveal important information to their doctor about their physical health. Mistakes are made in the operating room and, when it happens, the clinic staff needs to take the appropriate steps to insure that the patient is properly cared for at a local hospital. And that means they might have to call for an ambulance.

But when they do what’s best for the patient, those blasted pro –lifers are out there ready to take their pictures. The real coup, of course, is if they can get a picture of the actual abortion patient so they can plaster her face all over the internet. Indeed, I can’t prove it but I gotta believe that when the protestors hears the sirens they probably get all lathered up with excitement that they’re gonna see a patient being sent to the ER.

So, that’s why there are some clinics that at times have hesitated to call the local ambulance. They should be able to do it without hesitation but they’ve got to be thinking that, first, pictures will be taken of the patient and, second, the clinic’s name will be circulated throughout the community. I’m not excusing those clinics that might react that way but over the years I’ve come to understand how some might hesitate before exposing a patient to the voyeurs out front of their facility.

Hey, why don’t you pro-lifers station yourself outside the birthing center in your local community and take their pictures? You’ve got a lot more material to work with.

In a recent Daily Beast article concerning abortion-related comments between Rand Paul and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, Samantha Allen wrote, “By turning late-term abortions into a metonym for the issue as a whole, [Rand] Paul is clearly attempting to challenge the American consensus on the legality of abortion earlier in pregnancy. It’s a tactic as old as Roe: make first-trimester abortions guilty by association with the more easily demonized late-term procedures.” Nothing new was said here about the intent to frame all abortions as happening in the third trimester. “Metonym” is what caught my attention.

It is metonyms that keep the average person confused about abortion. Since most people, politicians and regular voters included, do not go out of their way to educate themselves about abortion and the numerous complexities of the debate, they are influenced by metonyms.

Not to be confused with a metaphor, a metonym is “a word, name, or expression used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated.”  We use metonyms all the time. Online sources cite “Washington” as an often used metonym for the federal government, “sweat” for hard work, “plastic” for credit card and so on. Most of us take care in everyday conversation to avoid metonymic usage if it will misinform. That is not the case in politics and, after reading Allen’s article, I realized how pervasive metonyms are in the language used to discuss abortion, primarily by those opposed to abortion.

What is the most destructive are the efforts to present abortion as something it is not. Achieving public policy objectives through false data and building public support by misleading the less passionate into a belief system based on ideology presented through using inaccurate and incorrect word choices is wrong, yet never effectively challenged.Embryos-Human

Responding to the same Rand Paul – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz comments, Casey Mattox shared in the Federalist that Wasserman-Shultz and the Democrat Party support abortion “through all nine months of pregnancy.” He later states, “Democrats are big on abortion euphemisms. When they say, as Wasserman-Shultz did, that abortion should be a woman’s ‘choice’ through all nine months, they want you to focus on something other than the reality of what abortion is. Simply put, there is no clean and humane way to kill a seven-pound, full-term baby.”

I am not sure what specific euphemisms Mattox had in mind, or if he incorrectly thinks that correct terms, such as blastocyst, embryo, or fetus, are euphemisms and that pro-choice advocates should use his preferred set of ideological words or metonyms. All pro-choice people I know would agree that it is inhumane to kill a full-term baby. We also tend to believe it inhumane to have public policies that would force a woman to compromise her health or die in order for a fetus to evolve into a born person. Mattox used the “choice” term in the context of the abortion debate as a metonym for “abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy for any reason.”  Sadly, the dispassionate all too often believe such rhetoric.

Over the years, many of us have written about the language used to discuss abortion. Often divisive and steeped in emotion, the language is powerful. The terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” have always created barriers to productive discourse about abortion to the point that many people now refuse to be categorized as one or the other.

Decoding Abortion Language imageFetus and unborn baby are frequently used as metonyms for blastocysts and embryos. Abortion opponents use murder metonymically for the abortion procedure itself.  Decoding Abortion Rhetoric: The Communication of Social Change (Celeste Michelle Condit 1990) discussed how metonymic language shaped public policy on abortion. That was 25 years ago and metonyms continue to define each and every facet that leads to abortion-related public policy today. Another book, Lexical and Syntactical Constructions and the Construction of Meaning, published in 1995, also discussed the metonymy of abortion language. When “embryo” is used by abortion opponents, it is as a metonym for stem cells, which has dramatically limited potentially lifesaving research. As author Mark Bracher stated in yet another book, Lacan, Discourse, and Social Change: A Psychoanalytic Cultural Criticism (1993), “Insofar as antiabortionist discourse convinces its audience, through such operations of metaphor and metonymy, that the fetus is an instance of human life, it succeeds in positioning abortion…” (p105).

Metonymy has positioned abortion in public policy outcomes. What it cannot accomplish is altering the experiences so many Americans have had, directly or indirectly, with abortion. Abortion polls that both sides use to claim victories from time to time are not reliable. What is reliable are the personal and family experiences people have with abortion rights and access.  Those experiences reject the metonyms and steer people to the belief that abortion is a personal decision between a woman and her medical provider.


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