What’s Wrong with Saying “Fetus”

Discrimination? Microaggression? Propaganda? These are common labels against pro-lifers. Anyone arguing for the rights of the unborn can expect to be characterized as enemies of women, of liberty, and of human rights. Sometimes we can learn from these accusations and pick better terms or listen with more charity. Other times, these labels just don’t fit. Or worse, they are baseless slander.

I would like to suggest that the abortion debate is riddled with a problematic term: “fetus.” At best, this term is a harmless shorthand way to refer to a “human fetus,” “fetal human,” or the “child-in-utero,” and other non-discriminatory terms. At worst, and it’s often used this way, it’s a misleading rhetorical move designed to instill dehumanizing prejudice against the unborn. Either way, we can do better.

Some may call the term “fetus” a “microaggression,” although I’m not a big fan of that concept.[1] My grievance with this term is that it’s typically a subtle but deliberate spin in verbiage intended to relocate the discussion away from any possible implication of human rights. The net effect of that rhetoric, if left unchecked, is a dehumanizing prejudgment about the status of the unborn, as if this “fetus” isn’t really a human being. This use of terms can even be a kind of discrimination. It isn’t discrimination in the sense of breaking a law or violating someone’s civil rights. But it does qualify as verbal discrimination because it is dehumanizing and prejudicial language.

Nevertheless, despite my complaints, I don’t think this term is a huge deal. I’m not trying to make it out to be more than it is. But I do run into this issue often enough that I have to say something about it.

COURSE PODCAST CLIP: Interview with Casey Mattox from Alliance Defending Freedom

Every other Wednesday we publish a new episode of the Equipped for Life Podcast, available to everyone who purchases our course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations about Abortion.” Generally, these podcast episodes won’t be available to the general public, but we plan on releasing short clips from the episodes every Thursday, to give you a sense of what these podcasts are like.

In this episode of the Equipped for Life Course Podcast, Tim, Rachel, and I interview Casey Mattox from Alliance Defending Freedom on how students should deal with free speech violations and respond to common arguments from typical leftists defending free speech violations.

Download Audio MP3 | 00:03:09

In this clip, Casey gives advice to students about what to do if people try to silence your outreach event.

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PODCAST: Pay Attention to Who Should NOT Be in a Given Conversation

Download Audio MP3 | 00:16:40

If you are a part of a dialogue-oriented outreach, you should be paying attention to who should be in a given conversation, and who should not be. This is one of those advanced practical outreach tips that you just learn by doing outreach a lot and by talking with the rest of your team a lot about different kinds of situations. The idea for this piece came to me as we were debriefing an outreach our staff did at Davidson College here outside of Charlotte, NC.

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COURSE PODCAST CLIP: Listener Mail – Insta-Correcting Views

Every other Wednesday we publish a new episode of the Equipped for Life Podcast, available to everyone who purchases our course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations about Abortion.” Generally, these podcast episodes won’t be available to the general public, but we plan on releasing short clips from the episodes every Thursday, to give you a sense of what these podcasts are like.

In this episode of the Equipped for Life Course Podcast, Tim, Jacob, and I answer listener mail.

Download Audio MP3 | 00:08:52

In this clip, we respond to a question about the “Rephrase What They Said” lesson in Module 2. How should we respond if they say that they didn’t actually say that, not because we misunderstood, but because they are changing their views during the conversation?

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PODCAST: The Best Way to Expose Logical Fallacies: Don’t Call Them by Name

Download Audio MP3 | 00:04:45

This is a follow-up piece to my previous audio blog on logical fallacies and the danger of accusing people of fallacies they did not commit. This piece focuses on how to effectively expose logical fallacies that are committed during a dialogue. Because this piece became one of the most popular posts, I began including this practical dialogue tip in a lot of my talks.

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Click here to share the original article.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes!