Category Archives: NARAL ProChoice America

June 9, 2009, 1:05 pm

The Work That Euphemism Does: A Few Thoughts on the Recent History of Abortion

As I composed yesterday’s immoderate post on abortion, one of the things on my mind was that the various factions that loosely make up what we call conservatism’s “right wing” have won at least one battle in the culture war. Over the last twenty five years, anti-abortion lobbyists have succeeded in altering how we speak about abortion; in turn pro-abortion lobbyists have altered their political speech. Both strategies have had negative consequences for women’s right to terminate a pregnancy and have shaped the history of abortion through language. For example, I favor, unequivocally, the right of all women to choose whether or not they wish to bring a fetus to term. And yet the ideological space, and the language to speak in that space, has become severely limited since Roe v. Wade voided state restrictions on abortion in 1973.

In cruising websites yesterday to write my post, I…

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