The Problem with the Phrase “Incompatible with Life”

Slippery language when talking pro-life can falsely change the narrative.


John Stonestreet

According to conservative commentator Ann Coulter, the pro-life movementhas gone from compassion for the child to cruelty to the mother (and child). Trisomy 18 is not a condition that is compatible with life.” She was referring to a Texas Supreme Court decision rejecting a woman’s request for an abortion on the basis of a health exception. Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder of which 50% of babies die within their first week of life and 90-95% don’t survive after one year.  

But this shows why phrases like “incompatible with life” are so problematic. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum responded to Coulter with a photo of his daughter Bella, who has Trisomy 18, and is now 15 years old.  

Trisomy 18 does not risk the life of the mom. And Trisomy 18 does not make a baby less human, and therefore no less valuable. But adopting language like “incompatible with life” will make doing the right thing far less likely. 


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