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Newsday readers debate the words ‘unborn child’

Both anti-abortion advocates and abortion rights advocates rally

Both anti-abortion advocates and abortion rights advocates rally outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life, Jan. 27, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

A letter writer objected to Newsday’s use of “unborn child” in a headline for a news story about a pregnant woman who died in a car crash [“Showing support of abortion rights,” Letters, June 22].

As we celebrate the centennial of women receiving suffrage in New York State, we recall Susan B. Anthony, who defended the rights of pregnant widows to maintain custody of their children. Anthony was quoted as saying, “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.”

One wonders how to address a friend about to give birth, without acknowledging her baby. “How is your fetus doing?” “When is your little clump of cells due?”

Getting behind woman-centered solutions starts with recognizing that she is a mother of a developing human.

Damian Geminder Amityville

Editor’s note: The writer is editor of The American Feminist, a publication of Feminists for Life of America, an advocacy group.


Writing “fetus” instead of “unborn child” might make abortion more palatable to some, but it doesn’t change the reality of what an abortion is.

Should we start calling baby showers fetus showers? Oh, but if a pregnancy is desired, it’s an unborn child or even a baby, right?

Two human lives ended that terrible day in the Long Island Expressway crash. Two hearts stopped beating. Two futures will never be fulfilled. Changing the name of one of those lives doesn’t change the awful truth. Let’s keep it real.

Debra Pollard, South Farmingdale


A reader writes that she is offended by the use of the term “unborn child.” You know you’re in trouble when your position in a controversy absolutely requires the use of half-truths and euphemisms.

The woman in that crash was about six months pregnant. The human in her uterus was her child. It’s absurd to argue with that one. I do agree, however, that “unborn” is not a great descriptor. Either “not yet born” or “in utero” would be more technically correct. Accuracy in phrasing would contribute to greater honesty in our thinking.

So, while we’re parsing our phrases, how about “reproductive rights” as a term commonly put forward by Newsday and other media outlets? “Reproductive rights” suggests the right to reproduce or the right to choose not to. Abortion cannot be described as choosing not to reproduce because for an abortion to be contemplated, reproduction must necessarily have already taken place!

The phrase “pro-choice” is similarly misleading. “Choice” is such a positive and nonspecific concept that it speaks of pure propaganda. The choice under debate is the choice to end the life of the woman’s offspring. There is a termination of pregnancy only because there is a termination of a human life.

Accuracy and specificity are not too much to ask.

M. Celeste Cole, Manhasset

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired physician.

Opioids can be used without addiction

I feel bad about the opioid problem, and officials are right to crack down on doctors who overprescribe [“Cracks in unity on opioid crisis,” Editorial, June 26].

However, in regulating the drugs, they should keep in mind that there are people who use painkillers responsibly.

I used them on two separate occasions when I had knee and ankle surgeries. I followed the directions of my pain-management doctor and was able to avoid addiction and abuse. Not everyone is addicted to opioids.

John Meyer,Oceanside