Norman Mailer, the author to whom the creation of the word factoid is credited, explained that factoids are “facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority.”
The factoid nature of the manipulative language used in discussions about abortion and respect for the dignity of the human person represent excellent examples of Mailer’s definition. The very idea of what an abortion is has evolved over time and today carries a meaning in most minds that has nothing to do with direct killing, dead babies or fractured motherhood. Abortion has become nothing more than a surgical procedure that ensues after a discussion between a woman and her doctor.
The prelude to today’s humbug makes for interesting study. In 1972, for example, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association recommended that all reference to abortion be removed from the criminal code. The summary of the reasons for wanting this accomplished ring true even today: “1) reaffirm women’s claim to freedom, 2) reply to claims sometimes made on behalf of the embryo or fetus, and 3) point out that those with moral or religious scruples about abortion that they nevertheless ought, in the circumstances, to reject the use of criminal law to enforce their views.”
In other words, removing any suggestion that a crime is being committed accomplishes the goal of relegating the victim—the dead child—to a non sequitur. Mission accomplished.
During the same year, the United States reported its last set of complete statistics for “illegal abortion” because, in the following year, the United States Supreme Court decriminalized the act—no longer defining abortion as a crime.
This is how the factoids on abortion came into being. No longer in polite company did folks discuss the grisly manner in which a preborn child is murdered. How could they do so, when the latest factoid was that abortion was not a crime at all but rather a personal decision between a woman and her doctor?
While pro-life Americans would continue to insist that the use of words could not mask the horror of what the act of abortion in fact did to a child, rising ignorance continued to erode common sense and reason. Today we are told that a woman has a “right to privacy,” which, conversely, means that her preborn child has no rights at all.
Along these lines Sheila Liaugminas recently wrote a commentary entitled, “How should we talk about abortion?” What is curious about the title—not to mention the article itself—is that it is a perfect example of how even we who are advocates for life have become immersed in the cultural factoids that surround and envelop every aspect of our public discourse on this tragic topic.
Liaugminas writes, “For pro-life media people to even concede to use the term ‘pro-choice’…. and hopefully vice-versa…. is a start. Style books have been changed over the years to write off the terminology of the ‘other’ as to render it invalid as a thought.”
In other words—factoid please—it is no longer polite to define the enemy of the preborn child as pro-abortion, but rather to politely accede to his vernacular by the use of the term pro-choice!
It is not passing judgment on an individual who promotes abortion to point out that what that individual is doing is literally supporting a deadly act. It is not intolerant to make it clear that abortion is not a topic for polite debate, but rather an action that is clearly and unequivocally deadly. It is merely stating the facts.
Regardless of what the stylebooks, apologists or media maestros might deem acceptable, the facts are what they are. Politically correct dialogue is not going to advance the cause of truth. It’s time to overcome the factoids with reality.