Joe Biden referred indirectly to abortion as health care during his State of the Union address. It was a euphemism inside a euphemism: the “right to choose” abortion framed as a necessary part of this thing we call “health care.”
But abortion isn’t health care. And it’s time to stop playing word games.
Health care’s dictionary definition is “efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals.” But abortion doesn’t treat a disease or improve a disorder. It forcibly ends a life.
The Hippocratic Oath, one of the foundational pillars of the medical profession, explicitly bans doctors from administering abortions or euthanasia.
Talking about abortion like it’s “health care” isn’t just a pernicious, subtle lie. It confuses and obscures reality. It harms women, it harms children and it prevents us from improving countless lives.
There is also a deliberate attempt to convince our kids that abortion is just another part of women’s health care. Planned Parenthood is already in many classrooms nationwide, teaching students that abortions are a normal medical procedure. This muddies the water even more, and is going to make real maternal health care reform increasingly difficult as time passes.
There’s a reason its advocates need to play word games, after all—”abortion” is a word with negative connotations, no matter where it’s used. An “aborted” landing, an “aborted” meeting, an “aborted” mission: these are all things that have been terminated too soon. They aren’t routine procedures. Being “aborted” is not a good thing.
Framing abortion as the only possible response to inadequate maternal health care makes killing unplanned babies the easiest thing to do—and that’s exactly what so many young, frightened mothers choose to do.
And the longer people get away with calling abortion “health care,” the longer we avoid the conversation about what real maternal health care would look like.
I’m not really sure why we dodge this question. The U.S. has nearly double the maternal mortality rate of any other wealthy, developed nation. That’s a scandal.
The maternal mortality rate disproportionately affects minority women. The impact of structural racism and implicit bias on social determinants of health is undeniable. During the pandemic, for example, maternal mortality spiked because more Black women died. The mortality rate for white women, while still relatively high, remained more or less unchanged. When critical factors such as economic stability, quality education, health care access and mental health are left unaddressed, we simply double down on the nefarious policies that created these inequities.
Complications from pregnancy, delivery or the postpartum period is among the most common causes of death for American women ages 20-34. I find it hard to believe that these mortality rates don’t influence a mother’s decision to kill her child.
This is avoidable. We should make it possible for these women to feel safe keeping their babies, by giving them better access to maternal health care.
Not abortion, mind you. Actual health care.
LifeNews Note: Benjamin Watson is a former Super Bowl champion and NFL tight end. He is the current vice president of strategic relationships with Human Coalition, a pro-life organization that operates several telehealth and in-person women’s care clinics.