“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The line made famous by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” teaches a simple truth. The truth is it does not matter what you call a thing, but rather what it is.
To a degree this is true. Things are what they are, whether we call them something different or not. To another degree it is not true, because what we call things is able to change the perception of them.
The practice of calling something by a different name is common. If what the thing being called actually is is bad or distasteful, or from a Christian perspective sinful, then to call in by a different name blunts the impact of the practice.
We see this when we call sin by other names. It isn’t sin, but a mistake. It isn’t sin, but a slip-up. It doesn’t change the fact of what it is, but it does blunt how we feel about it.
Another area where semantics is played is in the discussion of abortion. Those who are for abortion do not frame the discussion in that way. Instead they are not pro-abortion, but rather pro-choice.
Everyone likes choice. We have been raised from a young age in this country to value our freedoms. We have been taught of how men and women fought to ensure we have those freedoms.
We are leery of anything that restricts them. So, what better way to champion a pro-abortion agenda, then to call it pro choice!
Those who are pro-abortion have continued this path with a new word. It is called “reduction.” You see when a woman is expecting more than one child, they can have the “choice” to reduce the number of children they are carrying. Or to put it more clearly they can “abort” one child.
Once again doesn’t reduction sound so much better. It sounds less onerous then I’m having an abortion and choosing which child in my womb I want to keep. Or I’ve decided to kill one of my children today. No, reduction makes it seem okay. It makes it seem that it wasn’t that big of a deal.
You can call it pro-choice, you can refer to it as having a reduction, but either way it is the same. Changing the names doesn’t change the act. Just like calling a rose by a different name doesn’t change the rose. Calling abortion by a different name doesn’t change what has occurred.
Shakespeare was right and wrong. He was right that changing the name of something, doesn’t change its character. But he was wrong in that names matter, because many times they can frame our perspectives on an issue.
When it comes to abortion, let’s understand what it is. It is taking a life of another. No matter the name it is horrific.
Walker, Wesley. 2011. “Abortion by a Different Name.” StudyYourBibleOnline.com. Aug. 17.