Words Matter

The topic of abortion has dominated the airwaves since the release of the alleged majority draft opinion was published by Politico one week ago. We’ve heard plenty of arguments both for and against a sensitive issue that requires those who identify as pro-life to talk about it with care.

In the 50 years since Roe, we’ve learned that word choice matters because it reveals how you feel about abortion. For example, you can tell which side of the debate you’re on by which of the following words you use or don’t use: “baby” vs. “fetus” “pro-choice” vs. “pro-life” “right to life” vs. “women’s rights.” Confuse your words and you betray your message, just like President Biden did last week when he said, “abort a child.”

In addition to the words you use, it also matters HOW you talk about abortion and the examples you cite. Polling shows that a slim majority of Americans agree with the right to an abortion. But when asked to specify how far into the pregnancy an abortion should be permissible, that same majority of Americans overwhelmingly think there should be limits.

This change in perspective is largely due to the technology that reveals how a baby develops in the womb, which means those on the pro-life side of the issue should lean on these developments to ground their case.

Here’s what we now know about a baby’s development in the womb:

  • You can hear a baby’s heartbeat as early as three to four weeks.
  • A baby responds to touch at eight weeks.
  • A baby feels pain by 20 weeks or earlier.

Words matter, but so do the examples you use. When discussing the life of an unborn child, focus on their development in the womb. Doing so will give great weight to your talking points in the pro-choice/pro-life debate as these facts and figures continue to change hearts and minds.

B²: “Some form of punishment”

It’s not brand new information that Donald Trump rarely offers a detailed policy proposal – his audience doesn’t demand it. And so, he often makes statements that seem brash or exaggerated or unfair without consequence.

But in a town hall last week, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews didn’t let Trump off easy. The result? Trump closed out the worst week of his campaign by stating that women who undergo abortions should receive “some form of punishment.” Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle that just won’t quit, we’ve all heard Trump’s answer and his almost-immediate reversal over and over and over again.

Whether his misstep on abortion will influence voters in Wisconsin today or New York in 2 weeks remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, the pro-life movement will be made to answer for Trump’s answer as long as he’s a candidate. What will you say?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Donald Trump (a self-proclaimed pro-lifer) thinks that woman should be punished if abortion is made illegal. As someone who also claims to be pro-life, do you agree?”

B²: “Donald Trump doesn’t represent the pro-life movement and is wrong. He’s proven time and again that he doesn’t want to have a serious discussion about major policy issues. What we need to do is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t give any airtime to Trump’s answer. Instead, remind the media that he often makes outlandish and incorrect statements. His most recent eyebrow raising sound bite is no different. Then, pivot to your talking points to focus on the unborn as well as the mother, who often feels like she has no hope. To secure a win-win, craft a narrative that considers both lives.