How do you refer to children existing but not yet born? Does it depend on your audience? Do you find that some terms alienate the people around you? What works?
I just answered an email from a reader about my use of the word “preborn.” As I typed my answer, I thought that this is the perfect crowd-sourcing question. So please, share your answer in the comments section below. I have things to learn here.
I’m keeping my correspondent’s name anonymous except to say that she’s from New Hampshire’s North Country. Her inquiry:
I just read your piece at your blog on Griffin’s Law. I noticed that you and many anti-abortion rights advocates call unborn children “preborn.” Why is that?
The Oxford English dictionary entry for “preborn” said
orig. and chiefly U.S. (esp. in the language of anti-abortion campaigners). A.adj. Of or designating a fetus.
Dear Ms. xxx, I use “preborn” because it’s inclusive, referring to all stages of prenatal human development. I’ve used the term for more than thirty years, and I gently dispute the OED’s editors who limit the definition. As you know, “fetus” is the clinically accurate term for a not-yet-born human being more than 56 days post-fertilization.
And now, for your own answers. Go.