Sunday 4 December 2016

Edge of precipice

Published 24/01/2013 | 05:00

• Language is all important in the current debate about abortion. Subtle changes in the use of terms can gradually help to bring about and even justify ways of looking at ethical issues that previously were not acceptable.

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A famous example of this comes from an editorial in the September issue of 'California Medicine', 1970, which referred to changing attitudes to abortion in western society. It refers, in the following excerpt, to the need for a linguistic strategy if abortion was to gain acceptance.

"Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced, it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent.

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