You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue (Psalm 52:4).
A failed abortion.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our language betrays what we really mean. The term for this is parapraxis, also known as a Freudian slip. Dictionary.com defines parapraxis as “a slip of the tongue or pen, forgetfulness, misplacement of objects, or other error thought to reveal unconscious wishes or attitudes.” Sometimes these slips can be quite funny. Sometimes they are not funny at all. Sometimes they can be deadly serious.
In the language of abortion rights, the phrase always used to define abortion—and I mean always—is “termination of a pregnancy.” You will never hear Planned Parenthood speak about killing a child. Moving the focus to the state of pregnancy draws attention away from the baby and onto the condition of the mother. The dilemma of a woman in a crisis pregnancy, it is thereby suggested, is the pregnancy itself. And therefore abortion should be available to her, because abortion ends pregnancy and she has the right to bring her pregnancy to an end. It is her body, and she cannot be forced to bear a child against her will.
But then what is a failed abortion? Although it can mean an abortion attempt that does not end a pregnancy, it can also mean, and usually does, an abortion that results in the baby being born alive. For instance, Wikipedia describes the 2002 Born Alive Infants Protection Act as “extend[ing] legal protection to an infant born alive after a failed attempt at induced abortion.” But why does the aborted baby being born alive indicate failure? After all, the pregnancy has been terminated. If the goal is termination of pregnancy, why is an abortion not always a success?
We know the answer. The goal of abortion is the death of the baby. That is why, if the baby dies, the abortion is considered a success, whereas if the baby lives, it is a failure. In both cases, the pregnancy is terminated, yet only in one is the abortion considered a success.
“A failed abortion” is no Freudian slip. We say exactly what we mean.