Wow: William Saletan at Slate thinks that pregnant, abortion-loving women had better think twice about calling a fetus anything other than "a baby," or else they "might" end up offing their kids.
If you talk to pregnant women or read accounts of what they say to friends and counselors, you'll notice a pattern. Those who are happy to be pregnant and expect to give birth describe what they're carrying as a baby. Those who don't want to be pregnant and are seeking or contemplating abortion avoid that word. Given the same thing at the same stage of development, we see what we want to see: a child if we want a child, an unformed embryo if we don't.
I like to think this subjective mentality is confined to the pre-viable fetus, or at least to pregnancy. But what if it isn't?
Basically, ladies, when you want to be pregnant, it's a kid and when you don't want to be pregnant, you deny that reality to enable yourself to have an abortion. It's a baby! It's always a baby! Baby baby baby! Now you'll never have an abortion. Which is good, because — as Saletan explains — aborting a
baby is just one short step from smothering it outside the womb.
For evidence of that, Saletan links to a Washington Post story about Véronique Courjault (who Sadie wrote about earlier this week), who is being tried in France for secretly giving birth to and then murdering shortly after their birth three children (in 1999, 2002 and 2003). Courjault — who, one assumes, is probably not quite right in the head — said this about her motives:
"For me, those children did not have a real existence." Asked how she could carry the children for nine months and still feel they had no existence, she said, "I knew it, and then I no longer knew it."
This is the danger of denying that what you're carrying is a developing baby. Is your denial based on the undeveloped state of your pregnancy or on a determined refusal to see what you don't want to see? If it's the former, then at some point, if you continue the pregnancy, you'll start to see a baby. But if it's the latter, you might not. Your denial might extend all the way to birth, or even beyond it.
If you refuse to call a fetus you wish to abort a baby, you're a danger to any child you bring into the world! You'll be incapable of loving your baby! You might kill it! Your baby! Baby! Baby baby baby!
To prevent the unspeakable horror that will result from not always referring to a fetus as a baby, Saletan recommends all women have ultrasounds before they have an abortion.
It will make you face what's growing inside you and the urgency of deciding whether to terminate it, even if termination is still the right choice. Otherwise, you risk sliding into the mentality of denial. And there's no telling where that ends.
Except Saletan knows: you "might" end up killing your baby!
William Saletan is full of shit. He took an interesting kernel of an idea — the power of language to impart meaning to a pregnancy — and turned it into an indictment of women who choose one word over another, and drew a direct causal link to a disturbed woman who killed three of her kids. It's like a primer on how to shut down intelligent conversation.