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Most editors would have let it go. The young writer had described a law “allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.” She believed strongly in the right to life, but she was writing with journalistic efficiency, and her editors evaluated her work by a readability score. She used the phrase most journalists would have used.
Short, quick, covered the subject. Except that it didn’t.
Wording - Reader - Act - Subject—the - Victim—of
The wording erases the unborn. As generally used, it points the reader to the act, not to the subject—the victim—of the act. When people write like this, the baby rarely makes an appearance anywhere in the article.
The reader needs to supply his own picture of the unborn child, and he well might not. We can easily not see, unless the picture is pushed in front of our face. It’s as if we’re shown a slideshow with one picture blurred out. We rarely make the effort to figure out what that blurry thing is.
Abortion - Spoken - Way - Removal - Repair
An “abortion” spoken of in this way might as well be a hangnail removal or a ligament repair or some other morally insignificant operation. At worst, it’s like a face lift, an elective surgery some might consider immoral or unwise, which others insist is a matter of personal liberty. What it won’t be in that way of writing about it—at least not clearly so—is the taking of an innocent human life.
“Allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.” The passive gives it away. You have an abortion, you don’t abort a child. You provide abortions, you don’t abort children. It’s not as bad as the grossly obvious euphemism “terminate the pregnancy.” But it’s still not concrete and specific as it should be. It doesn’t make you see the baby.
Writer - Wording - Abortion - Child - Weeks
I changed the young writer’s wording to “allowing the abortion of a child up to 12 weeks of age.” Not nearly...
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