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Reclaiming The Language From The Forced-Birthers

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8-cell embryo, ready for IVF transfer. Public domain.

One of the fronts on which the forced-birthers have made progress over the years is in language. Media outlets frequently use their language, which is part of their propaganda. Now that the fight is heating up, we need to be careful in how we use language.

All this has been said before, but it’s worth repeating.

The photo is of an embryo, not a baby as the God-bothering Alabama Supreme Court and Nikki Haley would have it. A fertilized egg is a zygote. Up to about eight weeks after fertilization, the entity is called an embryo, after that a fetus. It becomes a baby only when it is born, although pregnant parents-to-be often think of it as a baby before then.

Those who talk about “unborn babies” would inflict their views on you even if those views kill you and the “baby.”

Then there’s the alive – life – human life spectrum. Lots of things are alive. Slime molds are alive. Pupating caterpillars/ butterflies are alive. Frozen IVF embryos are alive. Viruses are maybe alive, depending on your definitions. But the forced birthers use “alive” as shorthand for “fully human.” And, indeed, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are part of a spectrum of human development. But this leaves out the aspect of dependency on another organism. Human life deserves respect for both entities in a pregnancy.

The Alabama decision refers to IVF embryos as “extrauterine children.” It’s a verbal stretch and unnecessary to call the kids in the playground “extrauterine children,” but they are. Children outside the uterus, which they left some years back. That’s the picture the Alabama Supreme Court wants you to have. What IVF embryos actually look like is above.

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