"Rape," the instructors say, "is a four-letter word. Purge it from your lexicon." And as to anything else abortion-related, "Keep it brief."
Such is the strategy reportedly being taught Republican candidates in "Boot Camps" on how to talk about abortion. This news came in a recent New York Times article by Jeremy Peters.
But in case the reports are not clear, or should anti-abortion strategists need help, this space herewith offers an outline for surefire future political Boot Camps:
Avoidance is #1. Just don't talk.
If you actually start talking, and talk about women, it becomes problematic to take away their rights. Say as little as possible. Candidates who do try to say more than two sentences tend to trip up on "legitimate rape" blunders or "abortion causes cancer" misstatements. Therefore, it's best to talk only about fetuses, call them "babies," speak only in tiny sound bites, and then shut up.
These are the recommended sound bites:
We mustn't kill babies. Abortion hurts women.
These are the messages that get votes. Unfortunately, they are untrue, and thus difficult to defend. But if you say no more than seven or eight words, say them over and over and avoid actual dialog, enough people will believe the words to get you or your candidate elected.
But please, definitely, avoid:
Discussion of the difference between 'fetus' and 'baby.' Some voters do not believe a fetus becomes a baby until it is born. There are also too many very smart scientists who do not believe that tiny fetuses feel pleasure or pain.
You must also avoid the stories.
Stories told by 12- and 13-year-olds who were raped by a favorite uncle or family friend and might then have to endure the further brutality of continuing the pregnancy he caused - these stories make people think that abortion decisions might not be so simple. Or that banning abortion might not make it go away.
Stick to the script. Those stories cannot be told in eight words.
Stories in general just cause trouble. Avoid stories of pregnant women without jobs and with more children than they can care for already, or stories of pregnant women too poor to travel 300 miles to a clinic, or women with physical or emotional problems whose lives are being wrecked by unintended pregnancies...or stories of mothers and fathers facing the wrenching prospect of bringing a baby into the world who will suffer terribly and quickly die. Voters with a compassion gene might question your intention to force all these women to give birth.
And above all, avoid talking about women.
Women, when told what they may or may not do with their bodies, can become unruly. Enough unruly women can derail your election plans.