The Corner


What Is a Born-Alive ‘Fetus’?

As the Senate prepares to vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act — which would require doctors to provide medical care to infants born alive in the process of attempted abortion procedures — opponents of the bill have begun to deploy an intriguing rhetorical sleight of hand.

It showed up first in a letter from Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) to a constituent, in which he attempted to explain why he isn’t supporting the born-alive bill. “This bill would establish new requirements for health care practitioners in the case of a fetus who survives an abortion,” Kaine wrote of the legislation. In the case of what? If a “fetus” survives an abortion, presumably it is no longer a fetus but a newborn infant.

The word “fetus,” of course, is already working overtime to assist those who wish to disguise the reality of what takes place during an abortion procedure. It comes from Latin and means nothing more than “unborn child” or “unborn offspring.” But abortion defenders use the word as medical-sounding jargon, a crutch to dehumanize the unborn. It isn’t an unborn child, they insist; it’s a fetus. A fetus doesn’t have moral status. A fetus doesn’t have rights.

But now, in their haste to justify their opposition to a bill that prohibits infanticide — whether of the direct or indirect variety — abortion supporters appear to think they can use a word meaning “unborn offspring” to describe an infant born alive in the context of a failed abortion attempt.

This trick showed up again this afternoon, this time from Jennifer Conti, a doctor and abortion-rights advocate:

But the bill doesn’t require transporting a fetus to the hospital. It requires transporting an infant to the hospital. These supporters of abortion are once more twisting words beyond recognizable meaning in order to obscure and rationalize the dehumanization and persecution of vulnerable, unwanted individuals.

In the process, they reveal that so much of the defense of all abortion is nothing more than a word game. It matters little whether we refer to the human being inside the womb as a fetus or an unborn child, or to the newborn infant as a child or a baby or even a fetus. It is the same human being both in and outside of its mother. That is the truth they are desperate to avoid.

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