Bench Memos

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Seeing the postings on this subject of “abortion doctors” reminds me: I think I know where Justice Ginsburg gets some of her ideas.

Before the Supreme Court handed down its partial birth abortion decision, I participated in an electronic debate on the Federalist Society’s website with Jennifer K. Brown, vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum (formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund).

During our exchange, I used the word “abortionsts.”

I didn’t think at the time (pre-Ginsburg dissent) that the word was controversial. But Jennifer responded: “Is the term “abortionists” intended to convey contempt?” She preferred the term “doctors” — not “abortion doctors.”

I said the term “abortionists” was “intended to be merely descriptive. See Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) (abortionist is “one who induces abortions”). The job of a cardiologist is to address heart ailments, the job of a dermatologist is to treat skin problems, and the job of an abortionist is to ensure that the unborn human being in the womb is successfully killed, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath. That’s probably why abortionists have always been the dregs of the medical profession, many of them actually former M.D.s who have lost their license to practice real medicine. Moreover, abortionists need not even be M.D.s, which is why your use of the word “doctor” is inaccurate. “Abortionist” is simply accurate. It is what they do. Is “oncologist” a pejorative term, because the oncologist removes unwanted tissue? If abortion is such a boon to women, it’s interesting that you assume there is something pejorative about the term.”

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