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Language Log

Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008 - 11:45 a.m.

Saw a bumpersticker today that said "93% of women regret their abortion".

Now, even putting aside the issue of where they got that number, it seems flat wrong on the reading suggested first: that what these regretful women regret is that they didn't bring the pregnancy to term. Only on that reading is the bumper sticker a good propaganda piece for pro-lifers.

The other reading, one on which the women regret being in a position to need/want an abortion in the first place. One can regret an abortion in the sense that one can regret that she ever found herself in a situation in which abortion was the best option. I bet what many of these women regret was the entire life episode-- not just the abortion per se, but the entire situation that necessitated it. I bet you can regret an abortion without wishing for a minute that you had actually borne the child.

Guess that's a bit nuanced for a bumpersticker, though.

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