An email

Upon reading your article “Palin’s anti-choice legacy,” I wanted to bring a particular point to your attention.

 

Your use of the term “anti-choice” is very misleading, and shows a significant misunderstanding of the term.

 

The term anti-choice by definition means “one who opposes ALL choices”, no matter what the topic of choice be.  The opposition to abortion does not stem from the opposition of choices in general (as the term anti-choice would lead one to believe).  Those who oppose abortion are against feticide and embryocide, thus making them anti-feticide, anti-embryocide, or anti-abortion.  Just as someone who opposes the choice of a man to hit his wife is not anti-choice, but anti-domestic-violence, the correct label for a person who opposes abortion would be anti-abortion (or anti-feticide, anti-embryocide, etc.)

 

I would invite you to visit the website www.notantichoice.com to review and read more information on this subject and on the use of the term anti-choice.

 

Thank you,

[name withheld]

Um, no.

I could probably just deal with this in a short response email, or even concede no response at all, but I prefer to direct public attention to a post I’ve written previously on this subject. My own words:

I am pro-life. I am completely in support of each person’s right to life – their right to go to school and grow up and decide what their favorite food is and ask questions and read magazines and get a job and dream about changing the world. That’s why I’m a pacifist. I want all of those things for every person on this earth, and I’m tired of being made to seem like I’m against life because I am pro-choice.

For me, being pro-life is being pro-women’s lives. It is one the most demeaning things in the world to feel that the government values the life of the fetus potentially living inside me more than my life. It will be a person. I am a person. It will have a life — a life that I’ll fight to protect — but I’ve already got one. It’s a goddamn group of cells. I’m a woman. I laugh at the idea of someone who believes in lives, who believes in autonomy and the right of every thing to exist, telling me how to live mine.

That’s why I much prefer the term anti-choice to pro-life, because that’s what this whole fuss is about: telling women what to do with their bodies, their futures, their lives, instead of letting us choose for ourselves. If anti-choicers were truly pro-life, they would give a shit once the fetus was born — which, you know, they don’t: anti-choicers are the ones who are cutting funds for child care and children’s hospitals. And if they really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they’d stop pouring millions of dollars into bullshit sex ed programs and limiting access to birth control. What they are actually interested in is limiting women’s choices — limiting women’s lives.

That sounds like just the opposite of pro-life to me.

Anything to add, commenters? Does someone with more time than I’ve got at the moment want to take on the troubling parallel this emailer draws between abortion and domestic violence? Do you prefer the label pro-life, instead of anti-choice? Have at it in the comments.

Cross-posted at Women’s Glib.


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88 Responses to An email

  1. SeanTheSean says:

    From the website:

    By definition, someone who is “anti-choice” would be opposed to ALL choices whether they be about feticide, stealing, or eating food.

    FAIL. Man, did someone wake up in the morning and think “From now on, I’m going to interpret words as literally and reductively as possible, regardless of context of any kind”? Why does this guy (it says David R. Schmidt on the linked website, whose only text is almost exactly what was emailed to Miranda) insist on every name being descriptive? Is he going to go after the Republican and Democratic Parties, since they’re both republican and democratic, and therefore have unforgivably imprecise names?

  2. RMJ says:

    I’m actually with him. (Minus the unnecessary reference to the various “cides” and the comparison of abortion to domestic violence.)

    I think that the terms “pro-life” “anti-choice” etc. are unnecessarily inflammatory and misleading. This person, as they said, is not against every choice, but those having to do with controversial reproductive rights. Nor are most pro-lifers for life in every situation, as you point out (very well, I might add) above.

    I try to say “pro-abortion/reproductive rights” and “anti-abortion/reproductive rights”. These are neutral and descriptive of the actual issue rather than putting a misleading curtain on it.

    I think when we’re talking about abortion, we should actually talk about the issue. To me, pro-choice implies “well, it’s not MY choice, but I think others should have it.” It’s using euphemisms, which I generally think is not productive.

    I understand the need to counter “pro-life” with another euphemism, abortion doesn’t need to be talked about using code language. It’s a medical procedure that should not be shameful – but it is, because we all use language that avoids actual discussion of the issue.

  3. pianodreamer says:

    I try to avoid terminology battles as much as possible, because I think they detract from the actual content of the arguments being made. I don’t think the pro-choice movement is going to gain any sympathy from pro-lifer’s or the undecided by calling them “anti-choice”. It just pushes them further away.

    Intellectually, I don’t think “pro-life” is any more accurate than “pro-choice”. In general, pro-lifers aren’t for all types of life any more than pro-choices are for all types of choices.

    More accurate terminology might be “anti-abortion” and “pro-right-to-abortion”

  4. Kristen J. says:

    I prefer “forced-birthers”. Which is the most accurate explanation. They don’t care about “life” otherwise they would advocate for universal health care, minimum income guarantees and whatnot. They argue for legally compelling women to give birth. Period.

  5. eruvande says:

    “Coerced birth movement” is the term I prefer…many of these folks seem to be all about choice when it’s their choice – see Sarah Palin’s trumpeting of her choice to give birth to Trig, and the many stories of abortion protesters occasionally showing up inside the clinic – so “anti-choice” doesn’t always apply, it seems to me.

  6. RMJ says:

    I want to clarify: I do understand that it’s necessary sometimes to use terms like pro and anti choice rhetorically. The above comment just refers to my linguistic preferences.

  7. Sam says:

    Whatever they’re called–they have no right to decide anything for me. They can’t possibly understand my reasons until they’ve walked in my shoes.

  8. Melissa says:

    I disagree with RMJ. The term pro-abortion does not encapsulate the same idea as pro-choice. I don’t think many people would say they are pro-abortion, or that they want more abortions. Every pro-choice person I know wants to reduce the number of abortions. I think pro-choice does a good job at describing my stance. I believe that every woman (or man) has the right to make choices about her (or his) body, including making choices about her (or his) reproductive system. I guess the term pro-body autonomy is a better term, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, don’t you think?

  9. Kyra says:

    Anything to add, commenters?

    No. I just got here from reading this twit at Pandagon, and between him and these gems, my brain has solidly overdosed on stupid.

    The planets must be aligned or something.

  10. Jessica says:

    Really? You think “pro-abortion” isn’t inflammatory? Do you know how many anti-choice (and yes I use that term) groups use “pro-abortion” to inspire hatred and vitriol?

  11. Kyra says:

    Er, this gem, sorry. (And I KNEW that.) Can’t even type straight, apparently.

  12. Ashley says:

    I understand why using the term pro-life could be problematic, I don’t see why that’s a reason to use “anti-choice” instead, anti-abortion seems more accurate.

    As an aside: it bothers me how people who are anti-abortion get painted with such a broad brush. Yes there are assholes out there who probably do believe women’s bodies exist to be controlled, but there are also people who are opposed to abortion because they believe the fetus is a human being (at least after the first trimester) but who support women’s access to birth control and genuinely do care about the lives of both women and children.

    If it’s unacceptable to portray people who support abortion rights as evil baby killers, then it is also unacceptable to portray people who oppose abortion rights as evil women-haters. That rhetoric isn’t constructive on either side.

    (disclaimer: I am a supporter of abortion rights, my girlfriend is not. I’m pretty sure she has no interest in controlling my body or limiting my choices)

  13. Aj says:

    I definitely agree with the sentiments in your original post on this question. Pro-life is incredibly loaded, because it does, to a certain extent, assume that those in support of life, actually support life. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. They don’t support health care, they thrive off of the existence of poverty, and they could care less about the health and life of a woman.

    With that being said, I can understand, to a certain degree, why someone interpreting words too literally may think the term anti-choice is misleading as well. But, that comes with the territory of language. Language is ambiguous and fluid. Words have meaning because we asign them meaning and power. Using the term “pro-choice” is a deliberative statement that women’s access to abortion and reproductive health is very much a part of each individuals right to determine what happens to their own body. Thats why I kind of disagree with the anti-abortion/reproductive/pro-abortion/reproductive terminology. I mean come on, any feminist reading her knows that the pro-choice movement includes a hell of alot more then just those two categories. It is about autonomy and choice to control your own body. period.

    I would suggest that the original emailer step back a bit and understand the term in the context of the debate at hand. I mean, yes, choice can include my ability to choose to watch sports if I want. But that is not what is being discussed here, and in the specific framework of the reproductive rights, women’s rights, lgbtq rights, movement, pro-choice, anti-choice makes the most sense. To me at least.

  14. kb says:

    To me, pro-choice implies “well, it’s not MY choice, but I think others should have it.”
    RMJ, what’s wrong with that ideology? what’s wrong with saying that nobody who isn’t involved should get to tell a woman what to do with her pregnancy? I wouldn’t choose to give birth right now, but I strongly think others should have it. Also, you don’t have to have an abortion yourself to believe that it’s an important option. really, you don’t.

  15. Jill says:

    I also use anti-choice. It doesn’t imply that the person is anti ALL choices; it’s clear from the context that we’re talking about being anti reproductive choice. “Pro-abortion” is wholly inaccurate; some pro-choicers are certainly pro-some-abortions — i.e., abortions that women want — but “pro-abortion” implies that we support abortion over other reproductive choices. “Pro-choice” also encompasses a lot more than abortion — it’s about favoring access to an array of reproductive health services. That’s why I find “pro-life” or “anti-abortion” inaccurate — the movement isn’t just about fetal life, and it’s not just against abortion.

  16. kb says:

    okay, html fail. but if the bottom wasn’t bolded, it’d be what I was trying to say

  17. pianodreamer says:

    I don’t think coerced birth or forced birth are the best of terms. To me, these terms imply that they support raping women in order to force them into giving birth, not just that they support forcing already pregnant women to give birth.

    anti-abortion is both more accurate, and far less inflammatory.

  18. Kyra says:

    For me, “pro-life” only gets applied to a certain variety of pro-choice person, the sort who loves babies and might be uncomfortable with abortion, but acknowledges that the choice belongs to the woman involved, and whose efforts toward fewer abortions involves strong support for birth control and comprehensive sex-ed. That is to say, the people who actually succeed in living up to it.

    As for the people in the movement that claims the phrase, I’ll call them “anti-abortion” (accurate) if they’re arguing/working in good faith. If they attack contraception and comprehensive sex education, however, I won’t call them anti-abortion because it’s ridiculous and misleading to call someone anti-abortion when their policies lead to more of them happening through increasing the demand. Those . . . “forced-childbirth supporters” or “anti-sexuality” sound like about right.

  19. Ashley says:

    Another alternative: anti-abortion rights and pro-abortion rights. That seems pretty clear and specific.

  20. Meg says:

    People who are pro-choice aren’t pro-abortion. Pro-choice people support not only the right to abort, but also the right to give birth. It’s not supporting just one option, but the ability to choose between all of the options. Being forced or coerced into an abortion is no better than being forced or coerced into childbirth. The term ‘pro-abortion’ erases the woman, and the idea that the important thing is her CHOICE, not her ABORTION.

  21. I’m with RMJ on this. I usually use “in favor of abortion access” and “against abortion access”.

  22. Cara says:

    Yeah, I’d like to add that I’ve received this exact same email before, because of a post I wrote here at Feministe. I did get a good laugh — well, an appalled sort of laugh — out of the website, though.

    And what Jill said. I believe that anti-choice is the accurate term.

  23. RachelW says:

    I’ve had a couple of comments like this at my place and at Our Bodies Our Blog and they have also used the example that if you’re pro-choice, well maybe that means you’re pro-abuse or pro-slavery or whatever. I’ve generally responded that I don’t buy it that there’s genuine confusion about what choice we’re talking about (in posts on abortion!), and that I don’t think it’s an argument that is going to get us anywhere. I personally use pro-choice and anti-choice, for much the same reasons as Jill mentions above.

  24. pianodreamer says:

    Jill: “Pro-choice” also encompasses a lot more than abortion — it’s about favoring access to an array of reproductive health services. That’s why I find “pro-life” or “anti-abortion” inaccurate — the movement isn’t just about fetal life, and it’s not just against abortion.

    Kyra: “As for the people in the movement that claims the phrase, I’ll call them “anti-abortion” (accurate) if they’re arguing/working in good faith. If they attack contraception and comprehensive sex education, however, I won’t call them anti-abortion because it’s ridiculous and misleading to call someone anti-abortion when their policies lead to more of them happening through increasing the demand. Those . . . “forced-childbirth supporters” or “anti-sexuality” sound like about right.”

    Here I think it depends largely on the context and who you’re arguing with.

    The “Pro-life” movement at large is also opposed to things that are completely separate from reproductive health care, such as assisted suicide. So, if you’re talking about the movement at large, especially its leading organizations, “anti-abortion” would of course be a poor choice of words. This is also true when discussing broader reproductive health issues such as contraception and sexuality education.

    I think “anti-abortion” is still appropriate when the discussion is only about abortion rights.

    As far as the policies of the pro-life movement leading to more abortions, I think its important to keep in mind that most of these people honestly believe that their abstinence-only and abortion access blocking policies will reduce the number of abortions. For this reason, their policies are not a good reason to stop calling them “anti-abortion”. They’re just another example of why its so important for american culture to adopt more sex positive attitudes.

  25. Ahhhh….no. “Anti-choice” fits the right-wing movement against safe and legal abortions perfectly.

    It more than adequately describes their opposition to allowing women any freedom of choice regarding control of their own bodies that doesn’t mesh with their particular ideology.

    And it perfectly describes their just-as-stingent opposition to even allowing women the choice of methods to avoid even having to face abortions (including male condom usage, contraceptives, safe and effective IUD’s, and other means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.

    To put is simply, these people would put a pre-born fetus above the life and health of a living woman.

    As far as I am concerned, they are about as “pro-life” as boosters of war in Iraq are.

    When they show as much concern about living human beings as they rant and rave about “the unborn”, perhaps they will earn a bit more respect from me.

    Anthony

  26. Rob F says:

    I think Ashley #12 has point because there are different kinds of anti-abortion persons. Some possible groups:

    (1) The moralizers people who are really motivated by a desire for puritanical sexual mores. Besides being against abortion, they are opposed to real sex education, using contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies, are against supplying Plan B, against free STD tests, oppose HPV vaccine, etc. These people also aren’t pro-life in any sense because they support wars and the death penalty. These are also the ones who seem to spout off to the media, run the organizations. They are really against sex, amongst other things.

    (2) People who are against abortion, but who are also against war, oppose the death penalty, and want to do things that actually reduce the abortion rate. They support real sex education, want to use contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies, support making it easier to raise children, and so on.

    You can come up with other categories.

    I think that most people primarily mean group (1) when talk about anti-choicers.

  27. Jovan1984 says:

    I rarely use the word anti-choice. Instead, I prefer to use the word misogyny (-ist, -istic) in the place of anti-choice.

    Because that is exactly what opponents of abortion really are: misogynists.

  28. Cat Faber says:

    Pro-abortion is the wrong term.

    I’m not pro-abortion any more than I am pro-appendectomy. I think people who want appendectomies should be able to have them without government interference while I simultaneously oppose forcing appendectomies on people who don’t want them. Same for abortions.

    I am pro-*Choice*

    And the twit who thinks he owns English–well, so? Someone is wrong on the Internet; film at eleven.

  29. Cactus Wren says:

    Ashley@#18:

    Another alternative: anti-abortion rights and pro-abortion rights. That seems pretty clear and specific.

    No. Convolutions such as “pro-abortion-rights” are, in my experience, just another of the wild contortions anti-choicers use to get the words “pro” and “abortion” in proximity. I’ve been called “pro-abortion-rights”, I’ve been called “pro-abortion-choice”, I’ve been called “pro-choice-to-abort”, I’ve even been called “pro-choice-to-kill” — all formulations deliberately designed to imply that I favor abortion over other choices.

    What’s wrong with “pro-involuntary-gestation”, for anti-choicers? It even has a good acronym. B-) Or “pro-illegal-abortion”.

  30. This response essentially ignores the issue at hand. The gentleman who sent the email is stating that anti-choice is an inappropriate term, for varied reasons, some of which are obviously invalid, and others warranting discussion, but rather than respond to it, the response explains how pro-life is a likewise inappropriate term. However, the sender of the email did not mention the term pro-life at all, but rather anti-abortion. The argument in the email goes unanswered.

    As for the question of terminology, I am personally anti-abortion (anti-choice, in the context it’s used here), but I very much dislike the term “pro-life” which is basically loaded language. It is my opinion that the same can be said about “pro-choice”.

  31. Clarissa says:

    I received this exact same e-mail, word by word, in response to some of my posts. :-) So you are not the only one whose laanguage they decided to police.

  32. Rosasharn says:

    I don’t think it’s necessary to redact his name when the website lists it twice.

  33. Rosasharn says:

    I just sent this email:

    Since you enjoy sending patronizing emails about the definition of “anti-choice,” I thought you might enjoy reading some of these dictionary definitions.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/antichoice lists it as a synonym for antiabortion.

    “Opposed to the concept that a pregnant woman has the right to choose abortion.”
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/antichoice?qsrc=2446

    “Opposed to the legal right to obtain an abortion; pro-life: used disparagingly by pro-choice advocates.”
    http://www.yourdictionary.com/anti-choice

    “Opposed to the right of women to have the choice to terminate a pregnancy by induced abortion.”
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anti-choice

  34. Habeas says:

    Cactus Wren @#24:

    No, Ashley at #18 and Rob F @25 are on to something. I fit (not quite neatly) into category #2 of Rob’s post; I think there should be some legal restrictions on who has access to abortions. I am pro-birth control, pro sex-ed, pro-family-rights a la Moms Rising, anti-death-penalty, and so forth. I am not “pro-involuntary-gestation” because I believe that women with unwanted pregnancies should by and large not have access to abortions during the third trimester, with a number of exceptions for health etc. I believe women with unwanted pregnancies can choose to abort sooner. I am not “pro-illegal-abortion,” because I believe women should have access to legal abortion under a number of circumstances. Your language demonizes people you don’t agree with and doesn’t account for people with moderate positions. The “pro-choice/ pro-life” terminology only reinforces the intense anger between the groups without allowing for work on common ground such as sex ed, free/ low-cost birth control, and parental rights, which is politically unproductive.

  35. SarahMC says:

    I have received the exact same email, in response to a pro-choice post I wrote.

  36. Itchy Brother says:

    Well, I think pro-choice pretty well states the position of folks who believe women should have the right to make their own reproductive health care choices.

    Pro-life is not appropriate at all for the opposite position because many of those opposed to abortion are also in favor of the death penalty. Anti-abortion seems reasonable, but that doesn’t quite cover the large number of anti-abortion folks who also oppose contraception. There just doesn’t seem to be an all emcompasing word for those who want to subjegate women except misogynist.

  37. Danise says:

    I don’t have the answer, but I think the terms should address the legality of abortions. Isn’t that what we’re debating? Strict “pro-lifers” want abortion to become an illegal procedure; period. Moderate “pro-lifers” who concede that abortion may sometimes be necessary or should be allowed in certain situations are “pro-choicers” who are afraid to admit it. “Pro-choicers” want abortion to remain legal (under what conditions is a debate among this group).

    I also liked response #18, Ashley’s, referring to rights. People have many rights in this country – it is up to the individual as to whether to exercise each one. I would hope that access to personal medical procedures remain a right.

  38. Danielle says:

    I know people who use “pro-abortion.” They use it to mean that they believe there is nothing wrong with abortion. Many people do feel the actual procedure is something bad-but using ‘pro-abortion’ means I don’t find anything wrong with it.

  39. Cactus Wren says:

    And what do they use to mean “people who try to persuade women to have abortions they don’t want”?

  40. Aftercancer says:

    Here’s what I call them; Pro fetus

    The vast majority of them are anti birth control and don’t generally give a crap about what happens to the kids after they are born. Pro Fetus

  41. RMJ says:

    Really? You think “pro-abortion” isn’t inflammatory? Do you know how many anti-choice (and yes I use that term) groups use “pro-abortion” to inspire hatred and vitriol?

    Just because it’s inflammatory doesn’t mean that they’re right about it. The right makes a lot of things inflammatory – I don’t see why I should follow suit.

    I don’t think that we should avoid the word abortion. So many people, in both sides, ascribe a lot of shame to making the choice of having an abortion. Pro-choice sounds to me like “tragic choice”, which is moralizing and judgemental. I don’t think that we should be afraid to say the word abortion. It’s a choice, like any other.

    If you’re not comfortable saying that you’re for abortion because you personally wouldn’t have one (I personally would, and am in a position where I may have to make that choice next month, or the next), then try pro-abortion rights.

    I really don’t have a serious issue with the term pro-choice. This is just why I say pro-abortion/abortion rights or anti-abortion/abortion rights.

  42. stlthy says:

    ‘Feticide’? ‘Embryocide’? This person has got to be bloody kidding.

    The problem with the term ‘pro-abortion’ is that it doesn’t accurately describe the views of the vast, vast majority of pro-choice people. Some don’t like the idea of abortion and wouldn’t have one themselves, but recognise that other women should have the right to make their own reproductive choices. For me – I don’t have any moral objections to abortion, but I also have no personal investment in what any woman other than me chooses to do with a pregnancy – whether they choose to continue the pregnancy or terminate it makes no difference to me; I’m not in favour of one over and above the other.

    I generally use ‘anti-choice’, which is pretty well understood as a specific reference to reproductive choice, not any choice for anyone about anything whatsoever. The writer of the email that is the subject of this post no doubt knows that perfectly well, too. Anti-choicers dislike the term because it makes clear the unattractive result of their position. They would prefer to ignore the fact that banning abortion would result in actual sentient women being denied the basic right to physical autonomy – they would rather write the pregnant woman out of existence entirely.

    I also like the terms foetus fetishist and pro-dead-women (since deaths due to unsafe abortion are more frequent in places where abortion is illegal). I really don’t care if anti-choicers really think they’re motivated by a genuine love for foetuses rather than loathing of women, because regardless of intent, the policies they advocate are bad for women, and don’t do a great deal to reduce abortion rates, either. And my experience is that they either just don’t care, or have never even bothered to consider the effects of banning abortion on women – in other words, they’ve written women out of the equation entirely, whether consciously or not.

  43. UnHinged Hips says:

    Your use of the term “pro-life” is very misleading, and shows a significant misunderstanding of the term. The term pro-life by definition means “one who supports ALL life”, no matter what the life may be.

    I do hope the author of that email is opposed to antibiotics, lysol, and bug spray as well as abortion!

  44. amandaw says:

    UnHingedHips @ 41 – sublime.

  45. sharkchop says:

    I guess I consider myself both pro-choice and anti-abortion, although I define that second label in a different way than many people. When I got pregnant I decided to continue it. It wasn’t the first time I had thought about abortion, and had previously expressed that I didn’ think I could ever have one. I was right.

    I am pro-choice because I think safe, legal, on-demand access to abortions for women is really a civil rights issue. It’s fucking important and in addition to donating to planned parenthood and naral, I would never EVER consider judging or trying to influence another woman’s decisions about her body. I guess you could also say I’m pro-life. I’m Quaker, I oppose war, the death penalty. However, I don’t consider a parasitic clump of cells (regardless of what it could eventually turn in to) a life.

    When I talk about these issues, I say I am pro-choice because that is my stance on the issue as it relates to ALL women, not just me.

    Soo, I don’t like the idea of using anti-abortion to describe the “pro-life” contingent that spends their time writing misguided emails or standing outside of clinics shaming women. Like others have said, these people are often anti-contraception, anti-sex education and misogynistic. It extends far beyond abortion and into other choices women make. I think I’ll just stick with anti-choice.

  46. RMJ says:

    I can’t keep hitting f5 on this thread, so in case anyone’s interested:

    I think there are a lot of persuasive and interesting arguments on this thread, and women in particular have a right to use whatever terminology they want to use. I’m sorry if I de-legitimized or marginalized anyone’s views on this very personal topic.

    I still think that pro/anti abortion/abortion rights is the best term to use, and I’ve expounded on this in a little more detail here. Leave a comment there if you want to continue the conversation.

  47. Miranda says:

    @Rosasharn, #31 — The email was signed by someone other than the author of notantichoice.com. It may very well be a fake, but I wanted to withhold it anyway.

  48. theobromophile says:

    The only choice that pro-lifers oppose is the one to kill an innocent human being. That isn’t “anti-choice,” even if “choice” if logically limited to reproduction.

    I’m pro-contraception, pro-doula/midwife, pro-C-section, anti-rape, pro-pregnant & parenting students, anti-rape, and anti-abortion. I fail to see how that makes me “anti-choice,” unless the ONLY choice you are discussing is the one to end a baby’s life.

    If you don’t want to be called “anti-life,” then don’t call us anti-choice. That easy.

  49. Melanie says:

    Why not just use “pro-abortion-rights” and “anti-abortion-rights”? It makes sense to me…

  50. Ellie says:

    @thebromophile
    At the risk of sounding silly: WELL DUH! It is generally accepted that when someone says ‘pro-choice’ they aren’t talking about the right to choose your own breakfast cereal. Are you kidding me?

    Calling us anti-life is just laughable, by the way, because I don’t see any pro-choice activists shooting people, whereas ‘pro-life’ really means ‘pro-life-before-birth’, because obviously once a child is born then, as Miranda points out, none of you anti-choice people want to lift a finger improve their lives. And god forbid they are gay, or non-white, or grow up to be abortion doctors, because then half the ‘pro-lifers’ won’t bat an eye if they are brutally murdered. All in the name of GOD right?

    Anti-abortion people, come out and admit it! We’re wise to your game. Your righteous fury over the slain lumps of cells from women’s wombs, is NOT about saving the lives. It’s about punishing the whores! It is about shunning and shaming women who dare to not only have a sexuality, but commit the crime of not wanting a baby.

    As far as I’m concerned, if something horrible should happen and my methods of birth control should fail, I’d want an abortion. Not because I hate children, or because I’m ‘anti-life’, but because MY life would be ruined. My health would be compromised, my school and work would be put on hold, which is time I cannot afford to lose, and I’m not even as financially strapped as some women. Then would come an adoption process, which is complicated and expensive on it’s own, because keeping a child is not even an option in my life now. For me, if there is a mass of cells growing in my body, feeding off of it, and mucking up my systems against my will, that is called a parasite. And I have the right to be rid of it.

    If you are so ‘anti-abortion’ how about advocating for more readily available contraception, and comprehensive sex education? The first step to lowering the abortion rate is to lower the rate of unwanted pregnancies. We’d all like to see that.

  51. Melanie says:

    Also…

    And it perfectly describes their just-as-stingent opposition to even allowing women the choice of methods to avoid even having to face abortions (including male condom usage, contraceptives, safe and effective IUD’s, and other means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.

    – – – – –

    Because that is exactly what opponents of abortion really are: misogynists.

    Anthony@25, and Jovan@27:

    I am in favour of detailed sex education, contraception, the pill, gay marriage, and more government support for single mothers. I’m bisexual. I consider myself a feminist (which is why I read this blog), and am in favour of confronting sexist and mysoginistic behaviour.

    I acknowledge the necessity of late-term abortions in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, or when the baby will clearly not survive.

    I’m just not in favour of abortion for any other reasons, and would very much like to restrict access to it, because I think it kills babies.

    What would you call me?

  52. Lyndsay says:

    @ 40 Aftercancer
    “The vast majority of them are anti birth control and don’t generally give a crap about what happens to the kids after they are born.”

    They may be less of a majority than you think. I bet there is a significant amount of people that are not anti-birth control or anti-abortion rights but are too uncomfortable with abortion to call themselves pro-choice. They probably believe a fetus isn’t just a bunch of cells, which to my knowledge in the third month it is more than a bunch of cells.

    Pro- and anti-abortion rights makes it clear what is being debated–the legality of it. I’ll guess more people would label themselves pro-abortion rights than pro-choice. If people want to debate the morality of abortion, they could use pro- and anti-abortion.

    At least this person doesn’t want to use pro-choice either. I agree pro-choice and pro-life and anti-choice are vague enough that people can use them with different definitions.

  53. Courtney says:

    ANY opposition to a wanted abortion is limiting a woman’s choice. PERIOD We can sit here and discuss what our comfortability level with when and how for days. That argument is silly to me, because basically those who want restrictions on it are still telling women what is best for them. All we can do is provide comprehensive education and access to every choice out there and then leave her body the fuck alone. Whatever you want to call it fine but everytime abortion comes up there are those who will say they are for women’s choice and then in the same breath restrict said choice. You can’t have it both ways. I am pro-choice (not just when it suits me and when its easy but always).

  54. Robert Kelly says:

    I apologize for not reading through all the comments here. I’m just posting my thoughts and running, which is rather rude. Forgive me.

    I think the clearest and simplest terminology available is “pro-abortion rights” and “anti-abortion rights”. One could also (this is even better) put some effort into description and refer to “those who support legal restrictions on abortion,” or “those who support forbidding abortion through law,” and “those who support the rights of women to seek out an abortion.”

    What’s so hard about this? You could put some effort into writing out clearly what you and your opponent both believe, honestly and with sincerity. I mean, this “pro-choice” and “pro-life” business is really quite deceptive if you look closely. Obviously, people who are “pro-choice” are not “anti-life.” You can find other confusions the other way around. What it is is really a way to hammer down what is an incredibly complex and morally fraught issue with easily digestible slogans.

    Now, what’s really dangerous are the comments I’m reading which justifies shoddy terminology because more honest and accurate descriptions of the opponent’s position would “play into the hands of” the “anti-choice” person. Is there any evidence of this? I highly doubt it. Regardless (this is directed at unnamed commenters here), what you’re saying is that you can manipulative language based on political strategies and goals. If you go down this road, then I’m sorry, because you’ve become nothing more than a liar.

    Anyways, to sum up, whenever I see people justifying these loaded buzzwords, I start feeling very anti-choice and anti-life. No choices. No life. Just shoot me.

  55. Ami says:

    Pro-abortion could not be less neutral. I’m sure there are very few people out there who are advocating for MORE ABORTIONS. Abortion can be an emotionally traumatizing event for all involved, and I’m sure that no one concerned with the well-being of the woman wants to see her endure something like that if it is not the best option for her.

    Pro-choice to me is the choice to receive education on reproductive health, the choice of contraception that is best for me, the choice to have a child, to give my child up for adoption, or to have access to an abortion if necessary. Pro-choice is about freedom over my own body. Anti-choice is to take that freedom away.

  56. Robert Kelly says:

    Ami, then why don’t you just say that? Why do you need to say “pro-choice”? Like I said, you can simply write out what you believe. The moment you start boxing it all up in inaccurate and politically loaded babble terms is when you throw up walls in front of people’s ability to think clearly about the issue. Someone says “pro-choice” and you’re supposed to think “freedom”, etc. etc. etc. Someone says “pro-life” and you think living breathing thing, and anyone who is opposed to it is a murderer, etc. etc. etc. Both sides may actually be correct. But if you resort to such language it just muddies and confuses everything. It’s reductionist, overly simplistic and frankly propagandistic political jargon and it just pisses me off.

  57. Kristen J. says:

    What would you call me?

    I would call you a person who thinks it is appropriate to force a person share their organs with another entity. I would call you a person who thinks its appropriate to compel a person to take on serious medical, employment, and other risks to benefit another entity. I would call you a person who thinks its appropriate to force a person to undergo 9 months of discomfort, pain, potential unemployment, emotional trauma just to name a few.

    Honestly, I would just call you a bad person.

  58. Kristen J. says:

    But if you resort to such language it just muddies and confuses everything. It’s reductionist, overly simplistic and frankly propagandistic political jargon and it just pisses me off.

    Ah, yes…the tone argument.

    Fuck tone. Fuck people who want to force women to give birth. Fuck people who have to be “convinced” by my fucking tone that women are people. Fuck anyone who thinks that my rage that this is still a fucking argument in 2009 is about propaganda and politics. Fuck people who think my fucking word choice will change some asshole’s view of the relative value of women and fetuses. In sum, fuck off.

    Or to modify my tone, just for you, kindly fuck off.

    My new favorite description of the tone argument – http://inalasahl.livejournal.com/149900.html

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  60. Nia says:

    I prefer the “choice” labels to the “life” ones and the “abortion” ones because people who want abortion to be legal and easy to obtain don’t “enjoy” abortions. I want abortion to be legal, but I’d like then to be unnecessary.

  61. Kristen J. says:

    Robert…read..about…why…the…tone…argument…is…bullshit.

    http://uppitybrownwoman.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/i-dont-like-your-tone-missy/

    Learn something.

  62. Kristen J. says:

    Since you have problem following links…

    From UBW, linked above

    “The point I’m trying to make with my crappy metaphor is this: oppression hurts. Badly. For some people (can’t safely generalize), it takes a lot of mental and emotional preparation to even engage in a discussion about their oppression(s). People with marginalized identities do not need anyone with privilege trying to insert themselves into a conversation as though they are also marginalized, and make the discussion about how they feel or how they are negatively affected. (Also, if you are marginalized in one/two/n area(s), it does not mean you are marginalized all over.)”

  63. Miranda says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve deleted Robert’s third comment, but decided to let his first two comments stand. His words seem to me to be purposefully inflammatory, and beyond that inconsiderate and oppressive of women who actually have to make the choices in question, so any further comments will be deleted when I get the chance. Thanks.

  64. Meaghan says:

    I’d just like to point out that there are groups who call THEMSELVES anti-choice, or at least there were on the campus of the Catholic college I went to.

  65. Sheelzebub says:

    When you have pharmacists denying EC and BC because it offends their moral sensibilities, and they are backed by the so-called “pro-life” movement, I am going to call bullshit (and so no, “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion” are misnomers). When you have women who are forced to continue to carry and birth stillborn fetuses because the so-called “pro-life” movement has made it 1) difficult for med students to learn how to do these procedures and 2) made the hospitals and doctors that can perform them paranoid thanks to the late-term abortion moral panic the so-called “pro-lifers” flame, I will call bullshit. Women suffer–the rights to make decisions about our own bodies and our own treatment is taken away from us. This is anti-choice.

    Some pro-lifers think I should have access to EC and BC and that sex ed should be taught in schools. But the fact of the matter is, the actual pro-life movement is all about restricting women’s reproductive rights, restricting access to BC and EC, and shrugging off the very real harm they are doing to women. And let’s not forget–their rhetoric has had murderous consequences. Many “nice” “pro-lifers” with rosaries outside of a clinic are the same ones who spit at me and call me a whore–that’s not an isolated incident. That those same pro-life folks who say they only care about babies and that abortion hurts women too hand-wave away the damage caused by adoption, by rape survivors being forced to carry their rapists’ children to term, by women who are in dangerous pregnancies.

    I really don’t give a fuck if it offends anyone’s feelings. These people are trying to take away my rights–they’ve been pretty damn successful in eroding them–and I’m supposed to make nice? Great, some folks are the exception. But tiptoeing around the reality and sparing the feelings of a few folks who think abortion is bad ignores the fact that this supposed “pro-life” movement has done a lot to hurt women, to restrict our choices, and to moralize over our sexual behavior.

  66. Sheelzebub says:

    Melanie and bromophile:

    I do not want to be a mother. I do not want to be pregnant (and you, bromophile, from your post, know bloody well that pregnancy puts your body through the wringer). I do not care how much support I would get as a single mom–I do not want to have a child OR TO BE PREGNANT. I do not want to go through giving up a child for adoption–I’ve seen the horrific damage done to two women in my life who had to do that.

    So–my BC fails or I am raped or the condom breaks. You would force me to carry the pregnancy to term?

  67. Wednesday says:

    If I need neutral terms, I use “anti-legal-abortion” and “pro-legal-abortion”. I like these because (1) unlike “pro/anti abortion rights” people can’t drop the final word to change the meaning, and (2) it emphasizes that so much about this debate is not about whether or not abortions happen (they will even if they’re banned), or about reducing the need for abortions, but about whether or not the abortions that happen are legal.

    I definitely don’t consider the anti-legal-abortion crowd in general to be pro-life or even anti-abortion – not when so much of that group also opposes things that would reduce the abortion rate. And because there are people who I genuinely consider pro-life, I don’t want to sully the term by applying it to people who don’t give a rat’s ass about the lives of born babies or mothers. And the only people I can think of who are actually pro-abortion are extinctionists.

  68. Sheelzebub says:

    Oh, and–you can do the same thing with pro-choice. I am pro-choice, which means that I believe women who want to carry their pregnancies to term and raise their children should be given all of the support and resources they need to make this a reality. I believe that if a woman wants to carry her pregnancy to term, she should not be coerced into aborting or adopting out. I believe that women should not be pressured or coerced into being sterilized.

    So, no, it’s not pro-abortion. Pro-abortion simply isn’t accurate, even when describing the larger reproductive rights movement. (Though for my own personal case, for ME, damn skippy I’m pro-abortion.)

  69. Sheelzebub says:

    I think there should be some legal restrictions on who has access to abortions. I am pro-birth control, pro sex-ed, pro-family-rights a la Moms Rising, anti-death-penalty, and so forth. I am not “pro-involuntary-gestation” because I believe that women with unwanted pregnancies should by and large not have access to abortions during the third trimester, with a number of exceptions for health etc.

    These rstrictions are already in place. Why act like they aren’t?

  70. Jesurgislac says:

    I think pro-life is a widely-accepted and well-understood name for the movement in the US and elsewhere. I have no problem using it, though often with a nod to the irony of this name for the movement that murders doctors, commits acts of terrorism, campaigns against accessible healthcare for women, and all for the cause of adding to the number of women who die each year as a direct result of denied access to safe legal abortion. But if they want to call themselves “pro-life”, basic courtesy dictates we accept their own name for themselves, and requires that they refer to us as pro-choice. That the pro-lifers usually fail at this basic level of courtesy is really their problem: we are simply better than they are, by any measure or judgement.

  71. I use both the terms pro-choice and pro-abortion to describe -myself-. I consider myself pro-abortion not because I don’t support other choices for reproductive health, but because I believe that as long as women get pregnant, abortion will be a necessary fact of life. I don’t believe there is any getting around the necessity for abortion. I also use the phrase pro-choice because I support a woman’s choice to have an abortion, or to make any other choice she feels is the correct one for -her-.

  72. Lauren says:

    This notantichoice.com guy’s problem is basically summed up right here:

    “Do these fetuses have rights and if so, what are they? Does the mother have rights and what are they? What do we do when these rights conflict? Do some rights take precedent over others? These are the significant questions.”

    When you’re questioning whether or not the mother even actually has rights, you’re so far beyond being saved.

  73. Liz says:

    First off, WORD to Kristen J and Sheelzebub.

    If we’re getting to choose our favorite terminology, I tend to say that I am in favor of reproductive justice. Restricting the discussion of reproductive rights just to abortion generally elides the experiences of women from oppressed groups who want children, but whose ability to do so is restricted: Women of Color involuntarily sterilized, Lesbian women denied infertility treatment because of their sexuality, and so on. Plus there’s the fucking appalling treatment of incarcerated pregnant women, the concern about access to adequate pre- and post-natal care for economically disadvantaged women, etc. Ultimately I believe that women’s bodily autonomy should be recognized and honored, whether she wants to be pregnant/bear children, or not.

    I’ll take pro-choice as an imperfect shorthand for all that. As to what to call the opposition, though? That’s more complicated. As Sheelzebub points out @ 67, there’s a difference between an individual who might self-identify as pro-life and the “Pro-Life” movement. You damn well better believe the “Pro-Life” movement is anti-choice, which means you damn well better believe I’m going to call a spade a spade. To those who might be reading this who feel personally insulted or marginalized by people calling the Anti-Choice movement and those who adhere to its dogma things like “forced birthers” or “pro-involuntary-gestation” when you personally identify as pro-life, I have a couple of questions: might it perhaps be your rhetorical choices that need to be re-evaluated, rather then ours? Do you genuinely believe that moral objections to abortion ought to be legally codified? Do you genuinely believe that restricting access to legal abortion lowers the number of overall abortions to a meaningful extent?

  74. Habeas says:

    @71: I’m not “acting.” The point is that I don’t find the current set of laws overly restrictive in that particular regard. Several other posters, from reading their comments, support abortion up to the moment of live birth and I don’t share that position. In some circles that keeps me from being defined as “pro-choice” regardless of my positions on other segments of reproductive rights issues.

  75. Habeas says:

    That should read “…support the availability of legal abortion up to…”

  76. Sheelzebub says:

    No one here has said any such thing, Habeas. Pro-choicers are just fine with the law as codified under Roe–and I am sick to the teeth of people pretending that these restrictions don’t already exist.

  77. Habeas says:

    @54: “ANY opposition to a wanted abortion is limiting a woman’s choice. PERIOD”

    @37: “Pro-choicers” want abortion to remain legal (under what conditions is a debate among this group).”

    No one’s pretending any restrictions don’t already exist. I’m perfectly aware that most states already have partial or complete bans on third-trimester abortions. The two examples I’ve just given suggest that there is a pro-choice position among the commenters that is more extreme than Roe; @54, as presumably some women do want abortions in their third trimester, and @57 suggests that there is still a debate going within the pro-choice movement about the conditions surrounding legality.

  78. icanspintooo says:

    I’ll stop using the term anti-choice to describe anti-choice people, if they agree to stop using the word “natural” to describe heterosexual marriage.

  79. Sheelzebub says:

    No one’s pretending any restrictions don’t already exist.

    Your original post indicated othewise. It’s not as if you said, “Well, I’m fine with the existing restrictions of Roe.”

    The second example you gave was a poster describing her view of the pro-choice movement, not her view. The first example you gave, Courtney’s comment, was in reaction to the idea that anti-choice is a mean, nasty thing to say, and that some people are just so uncomfortable with our choices and that we should respect that. Given the fact that there are people who posted here that they are just fine with restricting access to abortion because it’s killing babies in their view, I can hardly blame her for her language. Also, you missed the point she made: that this choice is a medical decision that women–not outside parties need to make. Given that these are medical decisions, these are made with their doctors, especially when it comes to a problematic pregnancy in the third trimester. Those women who want abortions in their third trimester want them or need them for many damn good reasons–you are completely erasing their experiences based on an irritated comment in a blog discussion. And many of us are sick to the teeth of having to explain to strangers why we would choose that.

    The idea that we’re all slavering to abort by week 40 is a red herring. If we don’t want to be pregnant, we’re not about to go through most of the pregnancy.

    As far as your comment that we’re somehow helping to fuel anger and bad feelings, well, sorry, but I’m not feeling all that warm and fuzzy towards a movement that would restrict my rights. For all the common ground we are supposed to seek, the majority of pro-lifers would force me to carry a pregnancy to term if they had their way. They think abortion is killing a baby, and have spat at me and women like me, and flung epithets like baby-killer and whore my way (talk about demonizing). That makes me pretty goddamn angry. I won’t apologize for that.

  80. Habeas says:

    I respect and hear your anger at your experiences with pro-lifers.

    Are the current goals of “pro-choicers”, then, to hold ground regarding Roe, and/or to repeal state laws in such areas as parental consent and restrictions/bans on certain types of abortion, and/or to put a woman’s right to abortion in the Constitution? These are all goals I’ve heard articulated by groups such as NOW and NARAL but what I’m trying to get at is that I think the “pro-choice” movement is as fuzzily defined as “pro-life” in terms of the multiple political positions the term has the potential to contain. My opinion is that it’s one spectrum from total abortion ban to total abortion on demand, and most organizations/individuals fall somewhere in the middle but the terms they use to define themselves are not helpful in determining their actual stances on the issues. I hope this clarifies.

  81. Courtney says:

    @ Habeas Well then call me pro-choice and all the middle people you speak of pro-some choice and then the others anti-choice. And around and aound we go.

  82. stlthy says:

    Habeas, as Sheelzebub pointed out above, all that stuff about supporting abortion up to five seconds before birth is such a bullshit red herring. Exactly how many women do you think go through forty weeks of pregnancy and then decide at the very last minute ‘hey, I don’t think I want a kid after all! I think I’ll go get an abortion!’? Seriously, people who come out with that line clearly think women are flighty morons who just can’t be trusted to make decisions. It’s fucking insulting. Canada has no abortion restrictions, and as far as I’m aware, they don’t have hordes of women demanding abortions at forty weeks. Women who have third trimester abortions do so for very good reasons – if one has gone through 28 weeks of pregnancy, chances are it’s a wanted pregnancy and abortion is medically necessary.

    Anyway, regarding terminology, to describe my beliefs, perhaps I’ll go with ‘supports comprehensive sex education; affordable, easily available contraception; access to safe, legal abortion; and support for women who choose adoption or parenting’. I might write it down on card thingies so I can hand them to anyone who wants to know.

    I’ll describe those who oppose legal abortion as ‘pro-maimed and dead women’ – because that’s what happens when abortion is banned. Tough shit if that’s inflammatory; they need to at least be honest about the consequences of policies they support.

  83. Kristen from MA says:

    I would call you a person who thinks it is appropriate to force a person share their organs with another entity. I would call you a person who thinks its appropriate to compel a person to take on serious medical, employment, and other risks to benefit another entity. I would call you a person who thinks its appropriate to force a person to undergo 9 months of discomfort, pain, potential unemployment, emotional trauma just to name a few.

    Honestly, I would just call you a bad person.

    ———-

    Fuck tone. Fuck people who want to force women to give birth. Fuck people who have to be “convinced” by my fucking tone that women are people. Fuck anyone who thinks that my rage that this is still a fucking argument in 2009 is about propaganda and politics.

    Thank you, from one Kristen to another. ;)

  84. Cactus Wren says:

    Well said and well put, stlthy. I’ve all too often run into the cry, “But if a woman ‘decided’ to abort a healthy pregnancy five minutes before birth, there’s no law to stop her!”

    Indeed, that’s true. And if the Moon were made of mozzarella cheese, there is no law prohibiting our making it into a pizza five miles across. Of course, there would be practical problems: kneading the dough for the crust, building an oven that would brown it properly, and making a year’s tomato crop into sauce all come to mind, not to mention the eternal question of anchovies.

    Similarly, if a woman nine months pregnant suddenly “decided” (how I despise that word!) to abort a healthy pregnancy, there would be at least one practical impediment: no doctor would perform such a procedure, because it would severely impact the woman’s health.

    But these issues, accurate though they are, ignore the simple realities: the Moon isn’t made of mozzarella cheese, and women aren’t getting abortions five minutes before birth.

    It’s astounding, though, the despisal of women revealed by such arguments.

  85. Paj says:

    I’ve tangled with this troll before on my own blog. I made some post about Dr. Tiller and this woman sent me the EXACT same e-mail, verbatim. I sent her a polite response and forgot about her, but she kept contacting me.

    I finally googled her name (believe me, she’s well-known, and publishing her name is really not a big deal at all) and as it happens, she’s copied and pasted the same shriekmail to a number of pro-choice bloggers. So not only is she guilty of being an asshole with shit for brains, she’s an unoriginal asshole with shit for brains.

  86. Paj says:

    To wit:

    http://extroverted-wallflower.blogspot.com/2009/06/another-pov-on-anti-choice.html

    http://unrepentantoldhippie.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/ive-got-mail/

    And this one is in the comments section:

    http://allspinzone.com/wp/2009/03/30/anti-choice-folks-become-cheerleaders-for-death-of-children/

    I picture her as resembling a female Eric Cartman, alternately sending out e-mails and yelling “Respect mah authoritay!”

    After all, she references a website, which means that everything she says must be true.

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