Question: What Would Be a Better Word Than “Abortionist”?

I’d like to host a discussion in the comments below. The question is: what would be a better word to use than “abortionist”?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.
I imagine the discussion going a little bit like this, except it will be online and it won't be a stock photo.

I imagine the discussion going a little bit like this, except it will be online and it won’t be a stock photo.

UPDATE 7/13/15: There’s been lots of great discussion in the comments, from both sides of the debate, exactly what I was hoping for! My conclusion at this point is that “abortion practitioner” does the best job of not being rude and also not removing all stigma from abortion, both things I think are important. You can jump straight to the discussion about whether that brings too much stigma to abortion here. You can also read my thoughts on how we ought to think of “shame” as it relates to this discussion here.

We’ve talked a lot about language choices we make and our dislike of labels like “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” because people are more complicated than the labels we give them. Having said that, sometimes using labels is necessary, especially when writing.

Our general principle is that we try to use neutral terms, at least in public articles and at the beginning of our conversations with pro-choice people. The goal is to avoid hurdles that distract us from the most important questions in the abortion debate, what are the unborn and how should we treat them?

So you’ll notice even in this post as well as the rest of this blog, much to some pro-lifer’s great frustration, we use the term “pro-choice” when we need to use a label, as opposed to a more derogatory label like “pro-abortion” or “pro-abort.” I don’t think those labels are helpful nor accurately descriptive of most people on the abortion rights side of the debate.

“Abortionist” is a word that never seemed offensive to us, but others have recently said it is to them. This is a problem because needlessly offensive words can distract from the important questions of the debate. Any time we’ve used that term we haven’t been trying to be rude. We would like to find a better word for the medical practitioner who performs the abortion that is less offensive but still clear enough that people know what we mean when we say it.

For example, one common phrase is “abortion provider,” but that seems too vague. Planned Parenthood is an abortion provider. We’re trying to find the best word for the person who carries out the abortion. Help us out in the comments below.

As always, I want to hear opinions from both pro-life and pro-choice people, so a quick reminder about our comments policy: I will be deleting snarky and disrespectful comments.


Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

Please note: The goal of the comments section on this blog is simply and unambiguously to promote productive dialogue. We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, disrespectful, flagrantly uncharitable, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read our Comments Policy.