NRL News

The sign is almost the same: Abortion and Abandon

by | May 2, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Last week I was at an awards ceremony where a young woman signed both the introductory remarks and the acceptance speech. I immediately thought of this story we ran sometime back.

Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a two-second video can be worth thousands of hits and tweets and re-tweets.

I don’t know who first saw this and spread the word, but if you go to you will see an illustration of how you sign “abortion” in American Sign Language.

If you look up ASL, it’s defined as “the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and is one of several communication options used by people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.”

So it’s a big deal.

In just two seconds the signer goes from a rocking motion, suggesting a lullaby, to using her right hand to take out the baby, and discard him/her in one quick motion by opening her fist.

If you look at other options–at or, for example—you see much the same sign. In the latter case the rocking gesture is lengthier and taking out what would be the baby is more obvious.

You can go in a lot of different directions with this.

But what struck me was if you look to the left, literally the first word on the ASL dictionary is “abandon.”

The signs for abandon and abortion are different, of course, but the message of the two gestures is very similar: get out of here.

I’m perhaps reading more into this than it deserves, but in both instances, the woman’s face seemed pinched and unhappy to me.

Categories: Abortion
Tags: abortion