Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Difference Between Pro-Choice and Pro-Abortion

Many supporters of legal abortion object to being called “pro-abortion”. They want to be called “pro-choice”.

They think it makes them sound like a woman SHOULD have an abortion every time she’s pregnant.

But I wonder if they’re unconsciously distorting the English language in their minds.

In the abortion debate, they focus on the word “choice”. Every time a woman is faced with a reproductive decision they want woman to have a “choice”.

Not necessarily an abortion.

Hence, in their minds, they are pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

Pro-lifers aren’t necessarily concerned about a pregnant woman having every imaginable reproductive choice available to women. For instance, they tend to be against surrogate motherhood. They tend to be against IVF. And so forth.

What pro-lifers care about is the act of abortion.

It’s an abortion debate, after all.

It’s not a choice debate.

Pro-lifers pray in front of clinics because abortion kills babies.

Pro-choicers escort clients because they want women to be able to have abortions.

The “choice” word is just a mask for the crux of the issue.

The debate is not over the fact that supporters of legal abortion are pro-choice, but pro-abortion.

What is the significance of “pro”? Does it mean that they support abortion every time?

Well, according to the definition of the prefix “pro” it doesn’t. One definition means “favoring : supporting : championing”.

They favour, support and champion abortion.

Therefore they are pro-abortion. But they are so focused on the “choice” aspect, that they can’t see that the word “pro-abortion” can mean more than they think it means.

Perhaps some genuinely are pro-choice and not pro-abortion. Consider this example.

I hate tobacco. I think smoking is a vile habit and kills people. But since it is an activity that people choose to engage in voluntarily, I oppose criminalization because I fear the repercussions of such an act (although I think it’s a total nuisance. Not to mention a health hazard for others.)

On cigarettes, you could say that I’m pro-choice.

By analogy, some people really are pro-choice on abortion. They want it legal strictly because they don’t like the consequences of criminalization.

Now, if I were to lobby the government for greater access to cigarettes; if I were to offer it as a good solution to people’s problems; if I derided anyone who opposed that personal choice with insults; if I went out of my way to get people their cigarettes and created a whole culture around this political cause—

Then I would be pro-cigarettes.

All the effort to push cigarettes, and make them seem okay, and eliminate the stigma of smoking belies the “pro-choice” label.

In the same way, when feminists want to improve access to abortion, when they try to argue in favour of the morality of abortion, when they try to eliminate its stigma, when they deride their opponents as misogynists, they are not merely pro-choice no matter how much they repeat it.

They are pro-abortion. They think abortion is a good solution that should be available to all women.

Here’s what I wonder.

Why don’t they just wear it?

Why don’t feminists ever say: “I think abortion is great because it liberates women from unwanted pregnancies. Safe and legal abortion is one of the greatest developments of the 20th century. Therefore I am pro-abortion and proud of it!”

How come they never say that?

Could it be that they unconsciously see something wrong with abortion?

Are they afraid to assume the logical choices of their consequences?

To be fair, there are a few abortion supporters who label themselves “pro-abortion”. But none of the big name feminists do, as far as I know. The majority don’t. It feels like they’re trying to be really politick with their labels. I suspect that in reality if they were to reveal their true feelings about abortion, they would break up that uneasy coalition of feminists, the medical community, liberals and casual supporters of abortion rights, who rallied around choice to allow for abortion to be legal, regardless of the moral or philosophical reasons behind it.

I think that’s why they don’t wear it.