clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cecile Richards was the first person to say "abortion" at the DNC. Democrats often don't.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, was the first person to use the word "abortion" on the stage of the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia.

It was a moment that many reproductive rights activists were happy to see:

It might seem strange that Democrats, most of whom are pro-choice and willing to speak out against things like Planned Parenthood funding cuts, are often so reluctant to actually use the word "abortion."

But it’s very common for Democrats and other pro-choice advocates to instead use euphemisms like "a woman’s right to choose." There’s also a tendency to implicitly apologize for abortion by emphasizing that federal funds for Planned Parenthood don’t go toward abortion, or to focus only how great the organization's contraception and sexual health services are.

Hillary Clinton recently slammed Democratic debate moderators for never once uttering the word "abortion" or asking her and Bernie Sanders about how they would defend reproductive health care if elected president.

Reproductive rights advocates say that this timidity isn’t enough if we really want to defend abortion access, which is under attack in America due to hundreds of state-level restrictions.

In recent years especially, pro-choice advocates have pushed to fight the stigma against abortion in order to protect it as a fundamental right. They say that about one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and many people don’t realize that abortion is a safe, routine medical procedure.

Abortion should be treated like the normal medical care it is, advocates say, not separated out and turned into a political football. And they say that saying the word "abortion" like it’s a normal thing is one way to break the stigma and accomplish that goal.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.