Friday, January 10, 2020

"It" is not the correct pronoun for unborn children

An ultrasound of an unborn baby.
He or she is about 12 weeks old.
The abortion debate is partly a battle between language that describes reality and language that covers it up.

Pro-choice advocates refer to abortion as safe, as healthcare. Pro-life advocates counter that abortion is a process in which a human is violently killed. Humans in the embryonic and fetal stages are poisoned or starved to death. Their limbs are ripped off. Their skulls are crushed. In the case of partial-birth abortions, their legs, arms, and torsos are delivered to the outside world, and scissors are pushed into the base of their skulls.

The pro-choice side dehumanizes those at the embryonic and fetal stages, referring to them as clumps of cells. The pro-life side responds that those "clumps of cells" are incredibly complex and have differentiated into the many parts of the human body very early on.

But far too often, the pro-life side uses a word that inaccurately reflects reality and supports the pro-choice side. We repeatedly use the word “it” for a human embryo or fetus, which only gives up valuable philosophical ground. We sound like we don’t even believe they’re fully human yet. However, for the vast majority of the population, a human’s sex is determined by either XX or XY chromosome pairs at the moment of conception. (For certain medical conditions, this is not the case).

A rock is an "it." A table is an "it." A human being should never be an "it."

Killing the very young is easier whenever we liken human embryos and fetuses with objects or sexless biological organisms. But killing "him" or "her" has an emotional pull. Further, when we say "him" or "her," we are also recognizing the human in the womb as a son or a daughter of the pregnant mother. And the mother-child relationship is one of the most powerful and meaningful relationships there is; inherent in that relationship is the responsibility that the mother has to her child.

We don’t use "it" for a human who has been born. Imagine if you were talking to a co-worker who referred to another individual at your company as an "it." You’d think your coworker was acting very disrespectfully, accidentally misspoke, or had a deeper cognitive issue; clearly, the co-worker’s language would not be reflective of reality. Additionally, when we talk about an individual whose sex we don’t know, we say "they" or "he or she," which is how we should refer to the unborn.

Pro-lifers, you are on the side that realizes the truth, the side that recognizes the humanity of the unborn and that does not turn its back on the horrors of abortion. Avoid that unscientific word that undermines our entire point so that we can get closer to winning this war.

[Today's guest post by K. Mockaitis is part of our paid blogging program.] 

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