Words mean things

In my fantasyland, public figures attached to progressive causes would not run away from certain adjectives just because the Republicans have been very good at saying them with a sneer. And they would especially not do so when the adjective, in fact, fits. Behold Amy Sullivan, whose mission in life is to get Democrats to talk nice to the white evangelicals (even as more and more Americans run from organized religion):

You’re pro-choice. Does that interfere with being an evangelical?

Well, I don’t like the [pro-choice] label. I guess the reason I wrote about abortion the way I did in the book is because I have serious moral concerns about abortion, but I don’t believe that it should be illegal. And that puts me in the vast majority of Americans. But unfortunately, there’s no label for us.

Actually, Amy, there is a label for you: Pro-Choice. You wouldn’t choose to have an abortion, but you don’t want to make it illegal because other women might make other choices. See how easy that was? By the way, you’ve been hanging out with Will Saletan, haven’t you?

There’s really no argument about whether it would be a good thing to reduce the abortion rate. That’s been something that’s been standard policy with the choice groups in addition to everyone else for decades. The problem is, I’ve been talking to these folks for a long, long time, and they say, “Of course we want to reduce abortion! Don’t people know that?” And I say, “No, they don’t know that. And you don’t get any credit for it if people only hear you talking about a right to choose.”….

And so the people Democrats need to speak to are those people in the middle who are kind of queasy about abortion but who don’t want to see it outlawed. Democrats never mention reducing the abortion rate or the rate of unplanned pregnancies, and so they lose that opportunity to reach out to voters who are less sure about their position on abortion.

Um, you have heard of “Safe, legal and rare,” right? Democrats aren’t exactly running around talking up abortion on demand up to the moment before birth, as some of the trolls around these parts would have it.

In other quarters, would it kill Democrats to start embracing the “liberal” label again proudly instead of running away from it? And even if you don’t want to reclaim it right now, maybe just, you know, stop trying to define it away?

But what do I know? I live in a fantasyland.

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34 Responses

  1. Feministe on Progressive Language « The Legal Satyricon

    […] Feministe on Progressive Language In my fantasyland, public figures attached to progressive causes would not run away from certain adjectives just because the Republicans have been very good at saying them with a sneer. (source) […]

  2. Laura
    Laura February 27, 2008 at 11:04 am |

    THANK YOU!!! I have run into more and more people lately who say “I am pro-life. I don’t like abortion, but I am not going to force my decision on another person.” and I have to restrain myself to politely inform them that they are, in fact, pro-choice. The distinction is whether you want abortion (and often other forms of reproductive rights) outlawed, not your moral stance. Bah!!!

  3. Jha
    Jha February 27, 2008 at 11:27 am |

    These people just don’t seem to understand that “pro-choice” also means “the choice to keep your baby”. It seems like such a shallow way of looking at things.

  4. NicoleG
    NicoleG February 27, 2008 at 11:35 am |

    Democrats never mention reducing the abortion rate or the rate of unplanned pregnancies

    I was just arguing with a fellow Democrat who said something similar. What planet are they on? Why not look at what pro-choice groups are actually *doing* and *saying* instead of what right-wingers are baselessly accusing them of? Supporting Planned Parenthood, sex ed, and the availability of contraception doesn’t reduce the abortion rate? It’s a sad thing when even people on my side don’t know how to combat this dumb straw man.

    And because I can’t help myself:

    Alien 1: Abortions for all!
    Crowd: Boooooo!
    Alien 2: Very well. No abortions for anyone!
    Crowd: Boooooo!
    Alien 1: …Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!
    Pro-Choice Crowd: Yaaaay!

    /simpsons

  5. Greg
    Greg February 27, 2008 at 11:38 am |

    What still baffles me is how “choice” is directly correlated to the legality and ability to obtain an abortion.

    If a woman wants to keep her baby, but feels she has not the resources to raise her child, then how much of a choice does she really have??

  6. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say February 27, 2008 at 11:48 am |

    I think it’s been pointed out plenty of times on this blog that “pro-life” doesn’t really mean pro-life. So why wouldn’t we grant other people the same scepticism about “pro-choice”?

    Out here in middle America, pro-choice tends to be associated with quick slogans like “keep your laws off my body” and “my body, my choice.” I would guess that Americans who don’t want to outlaw abortion but don’t identify as “pro-choice” see the issue not as one about bodily integrity, in which a woman ALWAYS has the right to choose herself over the fetus, but as one about choosing between two evils. Ethicists have a discourse of “just war” — one which acknowledges that it’s always wrong to kill a human being, but also tries to understand situations in which you might be morally justified in choosing that wrong over a bigger wrong. I think a lot of people in America see abortion within that framework. And that means that they see abortion as a taking of life, but one that in the current climate — where women bringing babies into the world get no support from the wider community as they struggle to raise them — might be sadly justified.

    Which also means that those Americans — who wouldn’t vote to make abortion illegal — might also believe there are plenty of cases in which abortion ISN’T justified, and is wrong. Which isn’t really how the pro-choice movement frames its argument.

  7. norbizness
    norbizness February 27, 2008 at 11:51 am |

    Of course, and the thing that’s always ignored is that abortions went down in the 90s when a reality-based approach to reproductive health was introduced, and trended upwards in the last 7 years as these programs started to be dismantled. This, of course, means nothing to the people in Amy Sullivan’s imaginary electoral equation. You just have to peel away anti-choice people for whom it’s not the top issue and roundly ignore/marginalize the rest.

    I’m sick of the Roe v. Wade debate on constitutional grounds; its underpinnings go back nearly as far as Brown v. Board of Education (when you factor in Griswold v. Connecticut). The anti-Roe block is (Alito/Thomas/Roberts/Scalia block); Ginsberg and Stevens are likely to retire/pass before any of them. This means about 20 years of having a pro-choice President or fending off anti-choice nominees with a Congress little of us should have confidence in.

  8. Marissa
    Marissa February 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm |

    How come the right can get away with spewing hateful diatribes aimed directly at minority populations but words like “choice” – meaning your CHOICE – are considered bad words? What the hell..

  9. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 27, 2008 at 12:37 pm |

    Out here in middle America, pro-choice tends to be associated with quick slogans like “keep your laws off my body” and “my body, my choice.” I would guess that Americans who don’t want to outlaw abortion but don’t identify as “pro-choice” see the issue not as one about bodily integrity, in which a woman ALWAYS has the right to choose herself over the fetus, but as one about choosing between two evils.

    I certainly understand this, but framing abortion as an evil thing opens the door to additional attacks on reproductive rights. (If it’s evil, we should ban it!) I don’t have any brilliant suggestions as to how to re-frame the debate, though I’m sure others do.

    (btw, Zuzu, I love that the line “you’ve been hanging out with Will Saletan, haven’t you?” has 9 links in it).

  10. jamesPi
    jamesPi February 27, 2008 at 12:45 pm |

    eh, a lot of people tend to shy away from labels they don’t fully understand or when, for whatever reason, they dont like or understand the most vocal proponents of that label. similar to what prefer not to say said, a lot of people I know associate pro-life with people protesting outside abortion clinics and pro-choice with with a group of people whose views are very much to the extreme left. neither is true but thats what partisan politics has done to these labels. its a lot like libertarians, you can run down a list of issues and give people options for each issue, they are usually shocked when some or a lot of their responses match up with “libertarian” points of view. for a lot of reasons the term pro-choice, just like liberal, has had things associated with it that many people either don’t like or don’t understand so they opt not to choose the label. just like people who support full equal rights for all but don’t want to be called feminists, there’s a lot of power in labels.

  11. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm |

    One thing about the pro-birth side—their actions make it painfully obvious that they don’t give a rat’s ass about what happens to the mother and her child after the birth. Affordable housing? Health care? Adequate healthy food? Child care? The eight-hour workday? Well-funded public schools? Safe neighborhoods? Nope, they don’t give a damn about any of those things, and actively fight against ‘em.

    We on the pro-choice side could do a better job at tying our concerns with what happens after the birth (if that is the choice), directly to “pro-choice”. For example, by rating pro-choice politicians by their votes on the above issues; to get the “100%” rating, they’d have to have a comprehensive voting record that takes the choice of giving birth and keeping the child into account, too. Within the pro-choice camp are folks who feel that only middle-class or wealthier people should have that real choice—everyone else should choose abortion. It’s a minority opinion, but in the tradition of bad-news-travelling-faster, that gets amplified. The vast majority of people who either call themselves pro-choice, or actually are pro-choice but hesitant to call themselves that because of the baggage that has been hoisted onto the term (mostly from without, but yeah—from within too) don’t feel that way—and gravitate towards the comprehensive view that “choice” involves more than the beginning or end of a pregnancy. That’s why the term “reproductive justice” should be embraced and promoted at every opportunity.

    Our terms have been corrupted because of a highly organized, highly financed propaganda machine that controls more media than we do. Most alternative or progressive media are struggling, some have folded (translation? If you have some extra scratch, subscribe to some progressive media!!). But beside the media monopolies that are the result of deregulation, it’s also who is going into journalism. The impression I’m getting (as someone who isn’t in the business, but loves to read), is that going into journalism requires the ability to withstand unpaid internships—-who the hell can afford that? The perspective is getting narrower not just because of monopoly of media ownership and control, but monopoly of worldview, too.

    I’m not so sure we should work at reclaiming terms like “pro-choice” or “liberal”. Words do mean things, and words do change their meaning. I’m kinda leaning towards seeing the corruption of “pro-choice” as providing us with an opportunity—that corruption highlighted weaknesses in the term, as the pro-birth Greg pointed out up above. He comes from an organization hostile to women’s rights, yet is is able to wiggle that tooth in a way that resonates with working-class women. Why shouldn’t we flip that script and use that against our opponents? What better opportunity to illustrate exactly how much the pro-birth crowd doesn’t give a damn about your choice to carry to term and keep your child (which is where most of the resistance to the term “pro-choice” as too narrow is coming from)?

    Seriously! We’re the people who don’t want women to have to wait through a lengthy trial to determine if they were “really” raped, so they won’t have to give birth to their rapist’s child. We’re the people who don’t want women to have to go on dialysis or into a coma before their pregnancy can be terminated. We’re the ones who don’t think a woman should give up her future fertility because she had the bad luck to have an ectopic pregnancy. We’re the ones who have the confidence in women to know they are capable of having their own minds made up on whether or not to continue a pregnancy, that women don’t need patronizing lectures or extra hotel bills for mandatory “waiting periods”. We think birth control chould be easily affordable and available to all women desiring it—resulting in fewer abortions. We think emergency contraception is another great way to reduce abortions. We’re also the folks who think women who choose to become mothers shoudn’t be thrown out of school, or lose their scholarship due to pregnancy. We’re the ones who’ve consistently been against the firing of pregnant women from their jobs. We’re the ones who think the workplace needs to accommodate working parents. We were supporting FMLA—not the “family values” opponents. We support the continued existance of Social Security, so that even old folks without kids don’t end up on the street. We’re the people that are for giving children with disabilities the right to a decent education, instead of warehousing them in institutions. We are the people who think women with disabilities should have the full right to parenting just as women without disabilities. And on and on and on.

    Why not work with that, and go with reproductive justice as our bedrock?

  12. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say February 27, 2008 at 1:20 pm |

    FashionablyEvil says:

    “I certainly understand this, but framing abortion as an evil thing opens the door to additional attacks on reproductive rights. (If it’s evil, we should ban it!)”

    Right. But you have to remember, that for a good swath of people who don’t want to make abortion illegal, but do genuinely think of it as — at best — a necessary evil — the core issue isn’t guarding against “additional attacks on reproductive rights” because they don’t understand the issue in those terms. And that is why they wouldn’t identify themselves as “pro-choice.”

  13. Ghigau
    Ghigau February 27, 2008 at 1:29 pm |

    La Lubu, that is the single most beautiful and uplifting thing I’ve read all month. Thank you.

  14. Hugo
    Hugo February 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm |

    Great post, zuzu.

    I’ve been posting this week about coming back to the pro-choice label, and why. I tend to think abortion rights are like the right to divorce. No one gets married hoping to have a divorce (and I’ve had three); no one has sex hoping to get pregnant in order to have an abortion. Abortion and divorce are not intrinsic goods, they are intrinsic rights. That’s a major distinction, and just as we can be sad when going through a divorce — while acknowledging that it beats the pants off the alternative — we can grieve abortion and vigorously defend the right of women to choose it.

  15. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm |

    Right. But you have to remember, that for a good swath of people who don’t want to make abortion illegal, but do genuinely think of it as — at best — a necessary evil — the core issue isn’t guarding against “additional attacks on reproductive rights” because they don’t understand the issue in those terms. And that is why they wouldn’t identify themselves as “pro-choice.”

    I don’t think we’re talking about quite the same thing. My original comment could be re-stated as” “I am sympathetic to people who view abortion as an evil or a necessary evil, but I don’t think adopting that language is wise for pro-choice advocates because it opens the door to additional attacks on reproductive rights.” I know Amanda has made this argument before, and I think it bears repeating. We don’t win if we frame abortion as evil.

    *crosses fingers and hopes the html works because her screen is wonky*

  16. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 27, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  17. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses February 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    And so the people Democrats need to speak to are those people in the middle who are kind of queasy about abortion but who don’t want to see it outlawed.

    Eric Alterman said basically the same thing yesterday to Sam Seder on The Randi Rhodes Show. And he used the word “compromise,” like liberal politicians should compromise women’s reproductive rights to reach the majority so-called pro-choice center (i.e., abortion is okay, but only when . . .).

  18. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe February 27, 2008 at 2:51 pm |

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Enough “reaching out” to people who are “ambivalent” about abortion. It’s not an issue that is susceptible of compromise. Either you believe the resources of the state should be used to coerce a pregnant woman into giving birth against her will, or you don’t.

    On an issue like abortion, there’s nothing to do but draw the line and let people fall on whichever side they will.

  19. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 27, 2008 at 2:52 pm |

    I’m not convinced that abortion is thought of as a “necessary evil”. I do think it is thought of as complicated, and not one-dimensional, and that can definitely work to the advantage of people organized for reproductive justice.

    Let’s face it, not everyone’s choices are validated by the powers-that-be. For some women, it is their choice to have an abortion. For others, it is the choice to have a child. One thing that does resonate with women from all walks of life is that abortion is not an abstract issue. Women tend to be pretty conscious that it damn well could be our feet in the stirrups, regardless of our “feelings” about it, if the shit really hit the fan. The issue of privacy and making our own decisions and the right to value our lives resonates with women. All women? No, but most of us—from all backgrounds.

    I’m not convinced that ambivalence towards abortion has religiousity at its root. I’m thinking ambivalence toward abortion has misogyny and double-standards at its root. See, when it comes down to it, the consistent pattern has been that even amongst women who don’t want or have an abortion—-they are not ambivalent about keeping abortion legal. That ambivalence is the predictable outcome of a lifetime of damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t. The same folks seeking to make abortion illegal are also advocating the return to throwing pregnant young women out of school. Of calling children born to unmarried mothers “bastards”. Of revoking the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, so workplaces can be effortlessly pregnancy-free. Again, the “choice” that pro-birthers claim to be for, is not valued.

    There is ample evidence that much (but not all) of the disparity in pay and workplace advancement comes in the form of discrimination against mothers—including mothers who never left the workforce. We take the hit anyway. “Choice” is happening against all this backdrop.

    A couple of years ago, I read a book by Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Liberazione della Donna: Feminism in Italy”, and there was a chapter that discussed what Italian feminists did during the attempt to turn back the clock on legal abortion there. Feminists developed their own media in addition to using existing political/labor/liberation theology media, but also did door-to-door work. Talked with women about their whole damn lives, lives which are too often compartmentalized in the effort to just get by. That’s one thing soundbites can’t compete with—a wholistic vision of Your Life. Legal abortion was contextualized in history, in health, in opportunity, in its absence. Feminists there worked hand-in-hand with other justice efforts as a united front. I think we could do the same here.

  20. preying mantis
    preying mantis February 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm |

    “What still baffles me is how “choice” is directly correlated to the legality and ability to obtain an abortion.

    If a woman wants to keep her baby, but feels she has not the resources to raise her child, then how much of a choice does she really have??”

    If society doesn’t accept that a woman has the right to not be mobile life support at the expense of her health, well-being, or life, how much of a shit do you honestly expect them to give about that woman’s feelings and desires?

    We’re all operating on the same continuum, here. If a woman doesn’t have the right to control her own uterus, and her opinions about said foreign control are considered unimportant, that’s going to apply to her reproduction across the board, regardless of whether the issue is forced pregnancy, forced adoption, or forced childlessness. If we can firmly establish that a woman has the inherent right to her own body, we’ll have a much easier time then establishing that that right is meaningless if she is deliberately and systematically prevented by others from exercising it.

  21. syfr
    syfr February 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    abortion is okay, but only when….

    the pregnant woman wants to have it?

  22. Bruce
    Bruce February 27, 2008 at 7:01 pm |

    I think it may be fair for a lot (not all) of the people who shy away from the pro-choice label to shy away from it because, frankly, a lot of them favor increasing miscellaneous bad faith restrictions on abortion short of a ban. They are not pro-choice because they are trying to reduce the number of choices and the number of people who get to make them, but just short of a Huckabee-dream ban.

    But to the general point, yes, we have allowed wingnuts to poison the word liberal. I liked the headline of the late Steve Gilliard (RIP): I’m A Fighting Liberal. From Steve the Great:

    Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

  23. Charlotte
    Charlotte February 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm |

    I actually liked Sullivan’s article. A lot. Because, in the black-and-white-either-or la-la-mainstream, evangelicals are always Republican and as such, are, by their supposed conservative roots, “required” to subscribe to a pro-“life” stance when it comes to reproductive rights (wars? whole ‘nother thing). What Sullivan really wants to do with the article is to reclaim a Christian evangelical faith that has conveniently and seemingly necessarily been associated with conservative political positions, for herself as a liberal–positions that are informed more by patriarchal interest than by the Christian values she feels she stands for. She uses pro-choice as an example, and her admittedly somewhat crude discussion of it is, again, targeted at an audience that may never have heard “safe, legal, and rare”–or at least never thought about it because, in their faith practice, they were caught up in the political conventions of their church.

    For myself, I call myself a radical evangelical Christian exactly because I’m pro-choice and a liberal.

  24. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne February 27, 2008 at 8:35 pm |

    What Sullivan really wants to do with the article is to reclaim a Christian evangelical faith that has conveniently and seemingly necessarily been associated with conservative political positions, for herself as a liberal–positions that are informed more by patriarchal interest than by the Christian values she feels she stands for.

    I think Sullivan’s intentions are worthy. I think her policy ideas for implementing those intentions are horrible crap that’s part of the bending-over-backwards to make conservatives happy that got us where we are today.

    That’s the biggest part of the problem people have with her. Her goals sound all wonderful and noble (and they are) but her ideas for getting to those goals suck. Bad.

  25. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses February 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm |

    I think it may be fair for a lot (not all) of the people who shy away from the pro-choice label to shy away from it because, frankly, a lot of them favor increasing miscellaneous bad faith restrictions on abortion short of a ban. They are not pro-choice because they are trying to reduce the number of choices and the number of people who get to make them, but just short of a Huckabee-dream ban.

    That’s true. But then there are those people who say they’re pro-choice, support parental consent/notification laws and “partial-birth abortion” bans, see nothing particularly wrong with laws requiring women seeking abortion to look at an ultrasound picture of their embryo, but don’t realize that these laws are there in order to eventually achieve an all-out ban on abortion. So there are those pro-choicers who, with their vote and support, reduce the number of choices without really meaning to. I talked about Eric Alterman before, and he said that most Americans are pro-choice but support some laws restricting it. But I don’t think these pro-choicers would if they knew the implications of these laws.

  26. Daisy
    Daisy February 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm |

    La Lubu, love all of your wonderful comments here. You rock! :)

  27. Rika
    Rika February 27, 2008 at 9:43 pm |

    I think that, while we should definitely work to restore the label “pro-choice” to its original meaning and attempt to dispel the negative connotations attached to it, it certainly couldn’t hurt to emphasize another angle.

    It’s obvious to us that women should have the choice to terminate her pregnancy if she so desires, hence the name “pro-choice.” But then there are people who think, “what if the woman is doing it because…” and they think that there are some circumstances where they think that a woman is making the choice for the wrong reason. For example, I once asked my mom on her thoughts on abortion, and she said something like, “Well, I think women should have the right to abortion, but I don’t think they should be able to use it as a form of birth control.” I was about 15 at the time, I think, so I was kind of thinking that that was obvious, but how would you enforce such a thing? Now I know that you don’t really HAVE to enforce it, because how many women are thinking, “well I should be using birth control…but if I get pregnant I’ll just get an abortion!” Some people want women to be able to get an abortion, but only if its for the “right” reasons.

    So I think maybe in addition to emphasizing a woman’s right to choose, we should also be emphasizing that we should trust that women are making the right decision for themselves for the right reasons, not just because they’re irresponsible sluts who got themselves pregnant. Despite the arguments about whether a fetus should be considered a person or not, I think most people would prefer not to have to abort a fetus, whether we consider it a person with rights or not.

    We already teach kids that abortion is a last resort, and something that should be avoided, right? So why can’t people just trust that abortions ARE being used as a last resort? I think that might get some people over on our side.

  28. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 27, 2008 at 10:59 pm |

    Thank you, daisy and Ghigau!

    But I don’t think these pro-choicers would if they knew the implications of these laws.

    and

    “Well, I think women should have the right to abortion, but I don’t think they should be able to use it as a form of birth control.”

    We can always arm ourselves with the objective record. Statistics are on our side. Over half the women seeking abortions were using birth control. Improving access to and information about birth control can and does lower the abortion rate. Women give various reasons for wanting abortion, including lack of money to raise a child, or inability to balance existing responsibilities for other children (or other family responsibilities) with having another child. Some express concern about being a single parent, and want to wait until they are in a committed relationship before pursuing parenthood.

    So, salient questions to ask our opposition would include:

    1. why they are unwilling to increase access to or affordability of birth control, thus lowering the abortion rate,

    2. why they are unwilling to increase access to affordable housing, child care, health care, and flextime on the job to make the possible choice of parenthood more accessible,

    3. why they are unwilling to address and correct the pre-existing sexism that gives mothers lower wages, a lower likelihood of being hired in the first place, a “mommy track” to keep them from having access to the kind of flextime, flex benefits, etc. to ease the artificial burdens of parenthood (sorry folks, lack of flexible work hours isn’t an inherent burden of parenthood), not to mention the sexism inherent in assuming that mothers should bear the lion’s share of the “work/family balance”,

    4. why they continue to demonize single mothers, instead of praising us as the ones who “chose life”. Part of the reason there are fewer abortions these days as in years past is because of other changes to the legal landscape, like Title IX and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Abortion was more attractive to women when we could be legally prevented from working or obtaining even the most basic education due to being pregnant. Want fewer women to have abortions? Why not advocate stepping up the availability (and affordability) of child care (including extended hours—some women need child care before 8AM, or after 6PM, as workplaces and educational opportunities don’t always follow the 8-5 typical scenario). Hmm?

    5. we can ask if adoption is such a “loving choice”, why more fertile married couples aren’t taking the plunge and conceiving a child for the express purpose of giving the child up for adoption to an infertile couple? If it is so easy to give away a child, why aren’t more people who can, doing so? Perhaps it is because most women find adoption more painful than abortion. We can ask our opposition why they want to talk about “post-abortion syndrome”, yet not want to discuss the lifelong depression suffered by women who gave away, or were coerced into giving away, their child. (It may also behoove us to remind single white women that back in the day, they didn’t often have the choice to keep their child—their child was taken from them at birth never to be seen again, regardless of their wishes.)

    6. we can ask our opposition what their beef is regarding comprehensive sex education for young people, considering its massive effect on lowering the abortion rate for young women. We can ask why young people shouldn’t be taught that masturbation is a healthy part of sexuality, like Dr. Jocelyn Elders recommended (and was fired for in a gross example of clutch-the-pearls).

    7. we can always bring up history. Actual, bona-fide history that demonstrates that yes, folks actually were having sex outside of marriage even before the ‘sexual revolution’. We can even bring up the fact that the accepted practice of dealing with unwed fatherhood didn’t just involve shotgun weddings, but socially-condoned abandonment and denial of fatherhood. “It wasn’t me” was the expression dujour back in the day.

  29. Rika
    Rika February 28, 2008 at 1:52 am |

    zuzu that’s what I’m saying. That’s why I put “right” in quotation marks, at least once. I’m saying that we should say to people who are worried about whether women are making the choice for the “right” reasons, should just trust that they are, and that no one has to follow up on it to determine whether it was a good reason or not. There are lots of reasons why a woman might decide to get an abortion, some reasons might be better than others, but its never for just no good reason.

    That’s what I would say to my mom, at least, if I could go back in time, instead of just making a dumb face while I tried to think it over.

  30. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses February 28, 2008 at 1:54 am |

    Zuzu said:

    I think we need to leave reasons out of it. Because it’s a decision best left to a woman and her doctor. I realize that the mushy supporters think that there are good and bad reasons, but it’s not about what *they* think of it.

    I think that’s what Rika meant. At least, that’s how I read it.

    To La Lubu, I’ve used most of those arguments against pro-lifers before. I think it’s a good way to get them thinking. At the same time, though, I think it gives people the idea that as long as we fix these social problems that affect women, abortion wouldn’t need to be legal anymore. It seems like people believe that if something is deemed unnecessary, then it doesn’t matter if it’s outlawed. That’s why you have people who are “socially pro-life,” people who believe abortion can and should be outlawed once our society becomes more mommy friendly. Look at the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. Whoever wrote that said over and over that the procedure is unnecessary and not taught in any medical school in the country, so why is there a ban in the first place? And most people don’t seem to care that there is a ban on the procedure, and I think part of the reason is because people think as long as there’s a life exception, banning the procedure has no negative effect on women. I think it’s important to remember to tell these people that no amount of social progress is going to make every woman want to be pregnant at some point in her life and that we still need legal protection against people compromising our human right to control our own bodies. Women’s freedom has to be the center of the pro-choice argument, or else it just gets lost and nobody feels the need to legally protect it.

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