When words are used to hide the truth 5

The western world is very nervous about what it calls ‘judgemental attitudes’. In order to make sure that moral decisions are not ‘pre-judged’ it prefers morally ‘neutral’ words. One of the most obvious examples is the way in which ‘abortion’ came to be called ‘termination’. ‘To abort a foetus’ bears a weight of disapproval by society at large, as well as referring very directly to what is actually happening in the process!

It’s interesting then, to observe the opposite happening – i.e. a change from a morally neutral term to one of ‘condemnation by description’. I refer to the shift from the use of the expression ‘female circumcision’ to ‘female genital mutilation’. The word circumcision has been used to describe an operation performed for religious (Jews and Muslims) or medical (mainly in the USA) reasons, and until recently understood by the public to refer to men! But in order to change public attitudes – quickly and effectively – campaigners against the use of circumcision on women have persuaded the media to use the expression ‘female genital mutilation’. ‘Mutilation’ is a judgement word: no-one, surely, could agree that it is right to ‘mutilate’ a woman?

But is it right to ‘abort a foetus’?


About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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One Response to When words are used to hide the truth 5

  1. David Mawson says:

    To ‘abort a foetus’ is a very emotional term. A foetus is a living thing. To ‘terminate a pregnancy’ is much less emotive and may mean little more than to stop a process like ‘this bus terminates here’.

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