On making s: ideographs of legal hood.

Author:Langford, Catherine L.

Ideographs have been central to the abortion debate since the beginning of the movement (Railsback, 1984; Condit, 1990). An ordinary term, an ideograph conceptualizes collective social commitments toward a particular political end (McGee, 1980). An ideograph "warrants the use of power, excuses behavior and belief which might otherwise be perceived as eccentric or antisocial, and guides behavior and belief into channels easily recognized by a community as acceptable and laudable" (McGee, 1980, p. 15). An ideograph gains "meaning through its specific applications" (McGee, 1980, 10). Scholars have extended McGee's concept of the ideograph beyond linguistic constructions (Condit & Lucaites, 1993; Cloud, 1998; Lee, 2009; Hayden, 2009; Packer, 2013) to include visual (Edwards & Winkler, 1997) and spatial constructions (Ewalt, 2011). Scholars have yet to distinguish between different categories of ideographs such as public address ideographs, those most commonly considered by rhetorical scholars, and legal ideographs, those used in the law.

The ideograph of formed in response to the legalization of abortion and the reproductive rights advocates' use of the ideograph of (Hayden, 2009; Packer, 2013). During the early 1970s prolife advocates linked the fetus with the ideograph by showing photographs of fetuses in utero (Railsback, 1984). The ideograph facilitated restricting, but not proscribing, abortion. The Supreme Court maintains fetuses are potential , not actual [Roe, 1973; Planned Parenthood, 1992). Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment grants states the ability to take -albeit after due process. The ideograph thus extends public thinking about the beginning of , moving it from birth or quickening to conception, but does not resolve the problem of the legal standing of the fetus. The inability of the ideograph to give the fetus legal presence eventually resulted in the prolife movement advancing a new ideograph-a legal ideograph. A legal ideograph (used in statues, constitutions, legal documents, legal opinions, etc.), as opposed to a public address ideograph (used in speeches, campaigns, symbols, visual images, etc.) offers an argumentation strategy positioned to end legalized abortion.

Public address ideographs operate differently than legal ideographs. Public address ideographs cluster terms, with language assuming meaning from words used in conjunction with the ideograph (Lucaites & Condit, 1990). Legal ideographs are defined in legal dictionaries, statutes, and judicial opinions. Public address ideographs are elastic, adaptable to the meaning of the speaker as well as the auditor, with any speaker able to use the ideograph. Although legal ideographs also change, they do not alter quickly and can be changed only through legal channels of communication, including constitutions, statutes, executive orders, and judicial opinions. Moreover, only certain individuals are authorized to alter legal ideographs, including elected officials, executives (e.g. presidents, governors, and mayors), and judges. Although attorneys can suggest different ideographic meanings, judges decide if they accept the proposed ideograph or not. Public address ideographs can be consubstantial with one another and refer simultaneously to the same entity (e.g. a fetus is a , a human to be protected under the law). Legal ideographs privilege certain terms over others (s and citizens have rights under the law that human beings and do not).

The most recent campaign within the prolife movement attempts to enact laws that would confer hood upon the unborn. In other words, prolifers want to extend a legal ideograph to a controversy previously governed by public address ideographs. A strategy initiated by Colorado-based group Personhood USA, hood laws have been introduced (sometimes repeatedly) in Colorado, Missouri, Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, California, Georgia, Nevada, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, North Dakota, and the U.S. Congress. hood, "the crux of the issue" (Calhoun, 2012, para. 14), presents a turning point upon which the right to abortion can be proscribed. The thinking goes that if the fetus is a legal , then the Constitution gives that legal rights and privileges from the moment of conception. Conversely, if the fetus is not a , then he has no Fourteenth Amendment due process rights that would ensure his . As prolife advocates seek to redefine fetal rights, the question no longer is "When does begin?" but "When does hood begin?"

Philosophy, religion, sociology, and bioethics have spent much time considering the genesis, meaning, and implications of hood. Each of these intellectual traditions understands differently. Ancient philosophers link the body and the soul, yet many, including Platonist and Neo-Platonist thinkers, reject the ensoulment of a fetus (Carrick, 1985). Following Enlightenment assumptions. Western philosophers associate hood with intellect, distinguishing s from "human beings." s are rational beings (Kant, 2004/1785) who have "reason and reflection, and can consider" themselves "in different times and places" (Locke, 2008, p. 366). For philosophers, hood is located within the self. For theologians, the material, intellectual, and spiritual form of originates outside the self. Theologians locate the ontological essence of hood in a non-human supreme being-the imago dei-the image of God (Michael, 2013). The likeness of God manifests both in our materiality (Genesis 1:27 ESV, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him") and our cognitive abilities (Genesis 3:22 ESV, "Behold the man has become like one of us in knowing good an evil"). According to Christian theology, moreover, the triune deity is three autonomous s in one. Sociologists locate hood in the relationship between the self and others, in a fluid set of social relations, culturally and historically constructed but subject to change (Mauss, 1985). , according to Mauss (1985), is "imprecise, delicate and fragile . . . requiring further elaboration" (p. 1). The impreciseness of the term is reflected in bioethicist thinking, which varies widely regarding the properties of hood. Fixated on the moral permissibility of abortion, bioethicists disagree about the differentiation between "human" and , the status of the fetus as , the importance of hood for resolving moral debates about abortion, and the attribution of rights based upon hood (Macklin, 1983). Bioethicists also dispute the properties entities must have to achieve hood (Noonan, 1976; Brody, 1975; Sumner, 1981; Warren, 1973; Tooley, 1998; Fletcher, 1972, 1974, 1979). Most scholars within these intellectual traditions reject the hood of the fetus.

This essay offers three contributions to the study of argumentation. First, this essay identifies and examines an ideographic strategy previously unexplored within argument studies. Fetal hood marks a repositioning of the ideograph within the law and a new argumentation tactic within prolife advocacy. Second, this essay examines an argumentation strategy through which prolife goals may be achieved. Prolife advocates see fetal hood laws as a means through which to advance their cause to outlaw abortion procedures, abortifacients, and contraceptive devices that terminate or prohibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. Third, this essay explores the tensions between a public address ideograph and a legal ideograph. Within the law, language has a particular meaning that is adaptable, but resistant to change. Socially constructed and contextually-bound, occupies a unique intellectual and discursive space, distinguishing a legal from a and a .

This essay examines the ideograph of /hood pertinent to the reproductive rights debate. I begin with a brief survey of prolife discourse to understand how the movement developed a hood strategy as a continuation of its earlier discursive strategies. At issue in the hood debate is the attempt to remove "unborn" (or "preborn") as a grammatical modifier to , resulting in human s that can be granted full citizenship rights. I next examine different areas of law to understand how the ideograph varies within the law. My survey shows that the textual parameters of , as set forth in the Constitution, present a barrier to the prolife movement's attempt to end abortion in the United States. Importantly, certain areas of the law gesture to a hood ideograph but few employ it. The Supreme Court debated and rejected fetal hood in two landmark cases, leading the prolife movement to abandon as a possible ideographic strategy for more than a decade. Yet in 2008, states began introducing fetal hood laws. I examine how the hood ideograph they use attempts to give the fetal protected legal status from the moment of conception. Although states have yet to adopt fetal hood laws, one Alabama justice has extended legal hood to include fetal s. I conclude with implications of fetal hood laws and legal ideographs.


From Roe (1973) until the current decade, prolife characterizations of the fetus in public address have relied upon language largely devoid of hood. During this time the fetus = a baby, infant, child, or -sometimes using the modifier "unborn" to distinguish temporality as prior to birth (but not always). The use of baby, child, and infant do not gain ideographic status, as advocates on both sides adopt a discourse of rights (the right to choose and the right to ). These terms nevertheless give meaning to the ideograph of as they invoke pathetic appeals designed to discourage abortion, giving meaning to the ideograph of .

The public address of elected officials, religious leaders, prolife movement leaders, and legislative statutes represent the fetus as a baby, infant, or child. In his National Sanctity of Human Life Day proclamation, President Ronald Reagan (1984) declared, "more than 15 million unborn children have died in legalized abortions" since the...

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