A euphemism is a figure of speech that substitutes a cultured or less offensive term for an offensive one. Everybody uses this figure of speech. It is so common that we hardly think about it. Every time you say “I am going to the bathroom,” you are using a euphemism that substitutes the report of what you actually intend to do with the room that you intend to do it in. There’s nothing wrong with euphemisms per se as they enable us to suffuse our speech with a certain decorum and respect.
But euphemisms can be very destructive when they are used to cover up moral evil. The reprobate mind makes use of this figure of speech in order to make moral evil sound as if it is a moral good. Nowhere is this illicit use of euphemism more common in our own day than in descriptions of abortion.
In a story about the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments on a partial-birth abortion case, the New York Times reports that Dr. Warren M. Hern is “the author of a widely consulted textbook on abortion and one of the leading providers of abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.” Dr. Hern describes a lethal injection into the womb as designed to “induce fetal demise.”
Make no mistake, the phrase “induce fetal demise” is medical euphemism for “cause a baby to die.” In this case, the New York Times is picking up on medical terminology in order to cover up what is glaringly obvious to casual observer. Abortion procedures are aimed at killing unborn humans. This kind of cover-up is neither polite nor moral, but is the calculated effort to suppress the truth that is manifestly there.
One of the ways that the culture of death perpetuates itself is by getting the wider culture to adopt its euphemisms. Thus the suppression of God’s truth becomes evident even in the language we use. God help us not to give in to such unholy euphemisms. The fetus is a baby. It’s “demise” is it’s death, and we should not reduce the affront of this evil by a deceptive turn of the phrase.