Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hateful Rhetoric Dehumanizes Providers

The murder of Dr. Tiller has catapulted abortion and all its surrounding issues of choice into the public consciousness, inciting numerous analyses from both sides of the abortion debate. Right-wing standbys like Bill O'Reilly deride Dr. Tiller and other abortion providers as "abortionists," a polarizing term. From the extremist end of the pro-life spectrum, abortion providers and pro-choice advocates are labeled "sinners," "baby killers," "monsters," "Nazis" and other dehumanizing terms.

As this post on Feministing's community blog points out, words do have power when extremists twist them to suit their agendas. As this post rightly points out, when you stop viewing people as humans it is easier to hate them. When you hate someone, it's easier to justify or commit violence against them. Some pro-choice analysts have followed this logic and speculate that vitriolic, dehumanizing language from mediums such as Fox News bears some responsibility for this heinous act. Whether or not hate speech directly incites violence, people on both sides of the abortion debate should be able to agree that inflammatory, dehumanizing rhetoric erodes any progress that might be made for “common ground .”

Fortunately, pro-choice advocates can wield the power of words for good.
Telling our own stories can inform our friends, family, neighbors and coworkers about the reality of abortion and women who have abortions. By refusing to stay silent, the pro-choice majority can raise their voices in solidarity to stand up to pro-life bullies and ensure the future of reproductive freedom.

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