The midterm elections are over, praise be to God. By the time this article sees the light of day, I am sure the 2024 presidential sweepstakes will be going full steam ahead. All the “experts” from both sides of the political chasm will be telling us what exactly happened with the same certitude they had when the wave they insisted was coming turned into a trickle.  

The lack of a landslide in one direction or the other is more indicative of how equally split the country is than anything else, from the vantage point of this “expert” — or so it seems. For there was one issue the voters of California could not have been clearer on, and that was the proposition that, after its passage, “sanctifies” the “right” of abortion in the California State Constitution.

Proposition 1 in California was championed by the state’s Catholic governor and enthusiastically endorsed by the country’s Catholic president. The result was an overwhelming victory — nearly 70% of those who voted, voted yes.

Lots of victory laps followed from the so-called pro-choice adherents, and they were joined by other states where the pro-life cause went down in flames. These electoral Titanics could not have taken place without a lot of votes from people who identify as Catholic. And it could not have happened without another victory a long time ago — a victory over the English language.

The master stroke that wrapped the killing of unwanted or imperfect children in a mantle of “choice” was political theater performed at the highest level. Even pro-life people refer to the “other” side as pro-choice.

As Shakespeare and George Orwell demonstrated so well, words have consequences, and words mean things, even if they are mutilated to serve a specific agenda. I came across an example of such wordsmithing a few weeks before the election, which now serves as a reminder of just how culturally controlling being able to manipulate language can be.

It was a letter to the editor from some small newspaper in Maine (as if they have large newspapers in Maine). Besides overusing the thesaurus app, which caused him to use words like “paucity” for no good reason, the letter writer was an adamant “pro-choicer” who had a new take on what pro-life people are all about. 

He took umbrage (OK, now I will lay off my thesaurus app) that pro-life people are more religiously bent than the general public and that means they refer to the Bible for their moral compass. To the letter writer, this is where all the problems begin. He wrote that humans wrote the Bible, so it has a distinct human bias, and that pro-life people are not really pro-life since they are not equally concerned with amoeba, snail darters, and poison oak.

The writer thus took it upon himself to rebrand us religious types who cling to an unnatural bent toward homo sapiens. The other side gets to keep “pro-choice,” but apparently, we are getting a name change to “pro-human fetus” (PHF). 

At least the writer stipulates that the PHF crowd does come by their opinion in good faith, but with reservations — especially on the writer’s part. “To be PHF is an ethical position, mostly religious. Not surprisingly, the Bible assumes human dominion over life on the planet. Yet recall, the Bible was written by humans — mostly males.”

The temptation to respond to this kind of thinking with scorn and even dismissive laughter is strong. But this kind of word mutilation is no laughing matter. We saw the impact of almost 30 years of the term “pro-choice” in this last election. Who in their right mind wants to be against choice? 

These forces did the same thing with the word “fetus.” It sounds just nonhuman enough to make the act of doing away with it all the more antiseptic.

Words matter, and the misuse of them creates a modern-day Tower of Babel — and we all know how well that worked out. Words can change the course of peoples’ lives so much that many self-identifying “biblically biased” people believe the decision to kill a child in the womb is strictly a matter of personal choice. The power of words like “choice” may explain the very high numbers of Catholic citizens who voted for Proposition 1 in California and for other pro-abortion laws around the country.

The answer may not be in trying to produce new words or new meanings to old words but in reclaiming the language and refusing to allow it to be mangled beyond recognition. So, let us get to work and choose the word of life.