Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

On Making (Person)s: Ideographs of Legal (Person)hood

Academic journal article Argumentation and Advocacy

On Making (Person)s: Ideographs of Legal (Person)hood

Article excerpt

Ideographs have been central to the abortion debate since the beginning of the movement (Railsback, 1984; Condit, 1990). An ordinary term, an ideograph conceptualizes collective social commitments toward a particular political end (McGee, 1980). An ideograph "warrants the use of power, excuses behavior and belief which might otherwise be perceived as eccentric or antisocial, and guides behavior and belief into channels easily recognized by a community as acceptable and laudable" (McGee, 1980, p. 15). An ideograph gains "meaning through its specific applications" (McGee, 1980, 10). Scholars have extended McGee's concept of the ideograph beyond linguistic constructions (Condit & Lucaites, 1993; Cloud, 1998; Lee, 2009; Hayden, 2009; Packer, 2013) to include visual (Edwards & Winkler, 1997) and spatial constructions (Ewalt, 2011). Scholars have yet to distinguish between different categories of ideographs such as public address ideographs, those most commonly considered by rhetorical scholars, and legal ideographs, those used in the law.

The ideograph of formed in response to the legalization of abortion and the reproductive rights advocates' use of the ideograph of < choice > (Hayden, 2009; Packer, 2013). During the early 1970s prolife advocates linked the fetus with the ideograph by showing photographs of fetuses in utero (Railsback, 1984). The ideograph facilitated restricting, but not proscribing, abortion. The Supreme Court maintains fetuses are potential , not actual [Roe, 1973; Planned Parenthood, 1992). Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment grants states the ability to take -albeit after due process. The ideograph thus extends public thinking about the beginning of , moving it from birth or quickening to conception, but does not resolve the problem of the legal standing of the fetus. The inability of the ideograph to give the fetus legal presence eventually resulted in the prolife movement advancing a new ideograph-a legal ideograph. A legal ideograph (used in statues, constitutions, legal documents, legal opinions, etc.), as opposed to a public address ideograph (used in speeches, campaigns, symbols, visual images, etc.) offers an argumentation strategy positioned to end legalized abortion.

Public address ideographs operate differently than legal ideographs. Public address ideographs cluster terms, with language assuming meaning from words used in conjunction with the ideograph (Lucaites & Condit, 1990). Legal ideographs are defined in legal dictionaries, statutes, and judicial opinions. Public address ideographs are elastic, adaptable to the meaning of the speaker as well as the auditor, with any speaker able to use the ideograph. Although legal ideographs also change, they do not alter quickly and can be changed only through legal channels of communication, including constitutions, statutes, executive orders, and judicial opinions. Moreover, only certain individuals are authorized to alter legal ideographs, including elected officials, executives (e.g. presidents, governors, and mayors), and judges. Although attorneys can suggest different ideographic meanings, judges decide if they accept the proposed ideograph or not. Public address ideographs can be consubstantial with one another and refer simultaneously to the same entity (e.g. a fetus is a , a human to be protected under the law). Legal ideographs privilege certain terms over others (s and citizens have rights under the law that human beings and do not).

The most recent campaign within the prolife movement attempts to enact laws that would confer hood upon the unborn. In other words, prolifers want to extend a legal ideograph to a controversy previously governed by public address ideographs. A strategy initiated by Colorado-based group Personhood USA, hood laws have been introduced (sometimes repeatedly) in Colorado, Missouri, Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, California, Georgia, Nevada, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, North Dakota, and the U. …

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