Editor’s Note: the opposing argument can be read here
Most years, freshman presentations are a cause for dismay. Backs turned to their classmates, student after student mumbles the words straight from the slide. An occasional student may enliven the room but the majority inspire as much fervor as a mop bucket. This year, though, presentations caused quite a stir in my classes as several groups chose abortion as their topic, and every single group took a pro-life position. Not yet aware of the euphemisms and politicized language that can soften difficult conversations, to them, abortion was not a matter of healthcare. It is murder.
This frankness had rhetorical weight but their arguments were sophomoric and their information questionable. They did not address conflicting considerations such as when life begins, how to care for young mothers, or the psychological distress an unwanted pregnancy can create.
While these are secondary considerations to pro-life advocates—important so long as a child is allowed to live—they could be perspective altering contentions to a young mind. Accordingly, a recent PRRI poll showed millennial attitudes, often labeled the pro-life generation, shifting towards a more pro-choice consensus. If advocates are not careful, the same may happen with Generation Z.
With an inchoate understanding of issues, students are vulnerable to euphemisms. When asked to identify as either pro-life or pro-choice, Gallup polls show the country evenly split. However, digging deeper into the data, the polls show a majority of Americans opposed to abortion after three months, labeling it ‘morally wrong.’ Thus, when speaking in broad euphemism, abortion is supported issue; when asked about specifics with direct language, most take a more restrictive stance. Politicized language works.
The recent bills in Virginia and New York will make it easier to justify the blunt rhetoric of ‘murder’ as the more accurate perspective. A politician’s ambivalence towards a single-celled zygote and their belief in morning-after pills as healthcare is understandable. When aborting a child with fingers and viability outside of the womb, it is harder to rationalize the use of euphemisms. From there, it’s a natural regression to earlier stages in pregnancy, exposing any prior cutoff as arbitrary.
As I do not wish to, nor should, impose my political beliefs, I let one student make that regression himself. Aghast he asked me “This still happens in 2019?” I told him about the Bills in New York and Virginia, that abortions are more or less allowed up to 9 months. He responded, “up until nine months? But what happens if the baby was going to born the next day? What about babies a few months before that? You need to quit your job teaching, sir, and become a politician so that you can do something about this.”
As a note of caution, while honest language is necessary to keep their support, it is a small step from labeling abortion immoral to condemning a struggling mother who seeks one. In such a case, many in Generation Z will pull away from pro-life views for want of maintaining the dignity of the underprivileged. Pro-life advocates, then, must pair their condemnation of the act with compassionate rhetoric and policy for those struggling.
On a normal day, it would be a curse to wish upon anyone the perspective of a high school freshman. It’s full of angst over trivialities, public displays of affection, and tedious mobile phone games. In this one case, though, they see a reality that is often forgotten in squabbles over the minutiae of policy and appellate court appointments. Ignorant of the larger societal discussion, they have a perspective that is severe but necessary: there should be little debate that after 9 months—or any amount—abortion is infanticide. Activists must be careful to not lose them.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.