Democratic Caucus: Stop Saying Abortions Should Be 'Rare' – It's 'Harmful Language'

A House Democratic group is encouraging its members to stop saying abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” preferring instead a different phrase that nixes the word “rare” and replaces it with “accessible.”

Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, famously coined the phrase “safe, legal and rare” during his presidency from 1993 to 2001, and his wife, Hillary Clinton, again used the phrase during her 2008 presidential run.

But such language began disappearing from Democratic speeches in 2012, and in 2016, Hillary Clinton said abortion should be “safe and legal,” according to Vox.

Last week the House Pro-Choice Caucus sent out a memo urging Democrats to stop using the phrase “safe, legal and rare,” according to Politico. The same memo said Democrats should stop saying the country should “reduce” the number of abortions. Both phrases, the caucus said, were “harmful language.” Instead, Democrats should say abortion should be “safe, legal and accessible.”

The memo from the Pro-Choice Caucus included other suggestions, such as:

  • dropping the word “choice” in favor of “decision.”
  • stop using the phrase “unwanted pregnancy.” Instead, say “unexpected pregnancy.”
  • nixing language about back-alley abortions/coat hangers. Instead, say “criminalizing healthcare.”

Pro-choice activist Renee Bracey Sherman told Vox that the word “rare” implies that an abortion is something “you should be apologetic for.”

“It places the blame on the person who’s had an abortion, as if they just did something wrong to need one, rather than addressing the systemic issue as to why someone might not be able to have access to consistent health care or contraception,” Sherman said.

Pro-lifers criticized the change.

“Democrats have gone from their stances on abortion being ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to wanting to codify infanticide in a span of 30 years,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas.

The Pro-Choice Caucus, on its website, says its members “are working to preserve, protect and advance policies that ensure reproductive autonomy for all people.”


76 Pro-Life Groups, in Open Letter, Blast Effort to Criminalize Women Who Have Abortions

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Devonyu

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.


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