The Word Abortion Industry Workers Cannot Say

A pro-choice researcher wrote about how the term “baby” is dreaded in abortion sites. Feminist author Wendy Simonds interviewed abortion industry workers for her book Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic. Although the book was written from a pro-choice perspective, with a whole chapter dedicated to how to foil “antis” (i.e. “anti-choice” protesters), some interviews with abortion workers seemed to give far more ammunition to the pro-life side than the pro-choice side. After observing the workings of the facility and witnessing both abortions and counseling sessions, Simonds writes: Center staff members commonly said “the pregnancy,” “the tissue,” “the products of conception.” “Fetal tissue” was the most explicit term I heard health workers use with clients. They never, ever, called it a baby. Although Simonds does not spend much time talking about the counseling at the facility (except to say that sessions were kept short because spending too much time with each woman slowed down patient flow, ultimately reducing the facility’s income) pro-lifers can speculate about why the term “baby” is avoided. Many former abortion industry workers have talked about how they were trained never to say the word “baby” because it would make women have second thoughts about going through with their abortions. For example, former abortion worker Kathy Sparks said the following in the Christian Herald: Sometimes we lied. A girl might ask what her baby was like at a certain point in the pregnancy: Was it a baby yet? Even as early as 12 weeks a baby is totally formed, he has fingerprints, turns his head, fans his toes, feels pain. But we...