Latin 101 - "Fetus" means "Offspring," not "Tissue"

October 6, 2002

by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty

A February 2002 article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and reprinted on Planned Parenthood website, announced, with clear disapproval, "The administration of President George W. Bush handed abortion opponents a symbolic victory Thursday, classifying a developing fetus an "unborn child" as a way of extending prenatal care to low-income pregnant women."

And, on September 28, 2002 Amy Goldstein of the (Washington Post announced "Starting in November, ‘unborn children’ will qualify for government health benefits under a new rule that the Bush administration announced yesterday."

Unborn children is in quotation marks because, in the lexicon of the lunatic left, while a woman carrying a "fetus" is properly called a mother, it is not politically correct to say that the "fetus" she is carrying is an unborn baby.In criticizing the (news release by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, for daring to call an unborn baby an unborn baby, Goldstein claimed he "used the lexicon of abortion opponents, saying that the change would provide coverage for ‘unborn children’ and -- at one point - ‘babies.’"

Laura Meckler, an Associated Press writer, was even more explicit.She wrote, " The Bush administration said Friday (it will consider fetuses ‘unborn children’ under a government-funded health program, brushing aside complaints that the move is an effort to undercut abortion rights."

They seem to think that Bush has announced a new policy in which he had declared"fetuses" to be "unborn children. "Yet all the Latin-English dictionaries I’ve ever seen define the Latin word "fetus" to mean, in English,"offspring, young ones; the young of viviparous animals in the womb after it is perfectly formed." Are they all wrong? Somehow, I don’t think so.

I suspect that Meckler and Goldstein never took high school Latin and don’t know that a viviparous animal is a species that gives birth to its young alive, instead of laying eggs."Vivi" is Latin for "alive" and "parere" is Latin for "to bear" or "bring forth."Any mammal, human, cat, dog, mouse, elephant, dolphin or horse, that brings forth a live offspring, rather than laying an egg, is viviparous. . Therefore, the "fetus" in the womb of a human being is an unborn baby while the"fetus" of a cat is an unborn kitten.It’s not that complicated and George W. Bush didn’t make this up just to irritate the abortion lobby.  

Because medical science has discovered that the best way to prevent serious health problems in young children is to give them proper care before birth, it makes sense to provide prenatal care to the unborn, which is not a new policy.Amy Goldstein is incorrect when she says:"The change, designed to promote prenatal care, represents the first time that any federal policy has defined childhood as beginning at conception."

In the past, the Aid to Dependent Children program gave the unborn welfare benefits, Medicaid and public housing.During the 1960s, as I repaired houses in the inner city of Rochester, New York, I met quite a few young, unmarried women who wanted to GET pregnant because as soon as their pregnancy was verified with a pregnancy test, they received welfare checks for two, themselves and the unborn baby, and they became eligible for public housing.

I discovered that policy when I suggested to two black tenants, sisters from the Deep South who struggled to pay their rent that they apply for public housing."Oh," they told me, "we aren’t eligible for public housing.You have to be unmarried and have a baby to be eligible and our Mama told us that good girls got married before they had babies!"

I was sure they misunderstood what someone at the public housing office had told them so I called up and asked what the policy was.To my amazement, the sisters had accurately described the policy.Single women were not eligible for public housing, unless they got pregnant.If they did marry, and were struggling, social workers would tell them they would not be helped as long as the husband lived with the family.Usurping the role of husband and father seemed to be the core goal of the "War on Poverty" and Welfare policies of the 1960s.  

It wasn’t the black culture that led to 95% of the babies born in some inner city neighborhoods today being born to unwed mothers.It was 1960s Democrat government policy.In fact, it was the destructive, family-wrecking Democrat programs that I watched close up and often that prompted me to leave the Democratic Party around 1970.

To comment:


  1. - Washington Post - Fetuses to get Health Benefits - Sept. 27, 2002
  2. - Health and Human Services Press Release - September 27, 2002
  3. - Boston Globe - September 27, 2002 - Bush acts to cover `unborn children’ with government health care -



Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America, edited the Reagan Monthly Monitor and talk show host Michael Reagan’s Information Interchange for seven years. She now operates the website, Banner of Liberty.

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