The New York Times building in New York City (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

A New York Times op-ed yesterday exemplified the abortion-rights movement’s Orwellian effort to redefine the terms of the abortion debate and obscure the reality of what takes place in abortion procedures.

“Pregnancy Kills. Abortion Saves Lives.” was the headline of the piece written by Warren Hern, one of the country’s most prominent practitioners of late-term abortions, including elective abortions past the point at which a fetus is able to survive outside his or her mother.

The entire article is a particularly egregious example of a common tactic used to rationalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. The overwhelming majority of these arguments hinge on denying the fact that abortion is killing. Often, those who support abortion rights fail to so much as openly state this premise, let alone defend it.

From basic human biology alone, we know that every abortion procedure necessarily ends a human life. Asserting that this procedure “saves lives,” then, is begging the question. Abortion saves whose lives? “Pregnancy is dangerous; abortion can be lifesaving,” Hern writes. His unstated assumption is that a woman’s life is the only human life at stake.

Not only does Hern engage in willful deception about what takes place in an abortion, but he also entirely disregards that his ideological opponents believe abortion kills human beings. He intentionally ignores the heart of the conflict over abortion. As a policy matter, it is a question of competing rights. Which right takes precedence: the unborn human being’s right to life, or the mother’s right to autonomy even over the individual life inside her? Any case for abortion that ignores the reality of unborn human life isn’t a case at all; it’s an ideologically motivated assertion that fails to address the central question of the debate.

There are also those who promote abortion rights by outright denying the reality of human life in the womb. “When a woman is pregnant, that is not a human being inside of her,” said CNN contributor Christine Quinn on Chris Cuomo’s primetime show earlier this month. “That is a part of the mother.” This scientifically illiterate hogwash is a necessary crutch for those unwilling to admit that they believe women ought to have the right to end a distinct human life that is not part of her but rather inside of her.

Neither an embryo nor a fetus is part of his or her mother, nor are the lives of these distinct human beings ever saved by abortion. Surely Hern, who has made a career out of performing abortions on fetuses developed to the point where they look strikingly like newborn infants, understands that reality better than most.