Friday, August 05, 2011

Yes, there is such a thing as an unborn baby

One lame argument I’ve come across in my online abortion debates from poor-choice advocates is that “ there is no such thing as an unborn baby” or alternately “ a fetus is not a baby”.

The way poor-choicers frame the debate, they make it seem that the term is some arcane phrase used exclusively by pro-lifers to humanize the unborn child.

But is this actually the case?

One good way of knowing whether a phrase is in the mainstream is to consult a dictionary.

Dictionaries will not tend to define the phrase “unborn child”.

However, if you look up the definition of "child", it will often include the unborn in its definition.

For example, The Oxford Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus:

Child: (…) b. unborn or newborn human being.

Merriam-Webster Online
says a child is:

"an unborn or recently born person"

The American Heritage Dictionary says that a child is even

“An unborn infant; a fetus.”

Note that the word “child” does not even require the qualifier “unborn” to describe a fetus. It is taken for granted that a fetus qualifies as a child.

Sometimes, if you look up the definition for “fetus” you will get similar results. (From the Online Oxford Dictionary):

an unborn or unhatched offspring of a mammal, in particular, an unborn human more than eight weeks after conception.

The Collins Thesaurus of the English Language lists as a synonym for fetus:

“unborn child”.

The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words goes so far as to define an embryo in the following way:

“An unborn human baby, esp. in the first eight weeks of conception (…)”.

And if there was any doubt that the word “baby” and “fetus” can be used interchangeably, the American Heritage Dictionary says that among the definitions of "baby" is:

“An unborn child; a fetus.”

General use dictionaries are not the only ones that call fetuses children or children fetuses.

The Bantam Medical Dictionary (published by Random House) says of the fetus:

“In human reproduction, it refers to an unborn child from the end of its eighth week of development.”

The Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary (published by WebMD) in defining fetal circulation says:

“ The blood circulation in the fetus (an unborn baby). “

These examples are of course not exhaustive.

What they do is show that the phrase “unborn child” and “unborn baby” are not terms made up by the pro-life movement or used exclusively by them.

It also shows that “unborn” is not even a necessary qualifier. The English language recognizes that the fetus is synonymous with child or baby.

So when pro-lifers say that abortion kills children or abortion kills babies, they are not misleading the people, because our language understands fetuses to be children and babies.