There’s a interesting conversation going on over at Feministe. Someone wrote in decrying the use of anti-choice to describe folks who are not in favor of abortion. Miranda wrote:
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.Anti-choice is a persuasive rhetorical term, same as pro-life. A lot of people have made a lot of persuasive and interesting statements in the comments, and I think women have a right to their own terminology on this. It's something that affects us, and it's a choice that only we can make, in our uterus and our language. I say pro-abortion and anti-abortion.
As I said in the comments there, I think that couching the debate about abortion in euphemisms is shaming those who make the choice in the affirmative – to get an abortion. So many people, on both sides [links not safe spaces], ascribe a lot of shame to making the choice of having an abortion. Pro-choice sounds to me like “tragic choice”, which implies judgment in a serious way. I don’t think that we should be afraid to say the word abortion. It’s a choice, like any other. Not using the word rings as moralizing to me - what is so awful about the word, and the choice, that we can't just say it?
Why use vague terms that are not descriptive of what the debate is actually about? It's not about the notion of choice philosophically or in all arenas of life - it's about choice with regards to abortion and other reproductive rights. It's not about the idea of life - it's about the life of a parasitic fetus. This debate is about abortion and reproductive rights. It's vague, propagandistic, and childish to say anything else.
Why is abortion the subject which must not speak its name? Folks who are against abortion rights are just that. They're not against all choices, or for all life. Why use a term that implies they are, even if everyone knows we don't mean anti - ALL choices.
I don’t really think that there’s a right or a wrong term to use, as one commenter suggested. I understand that there are people who would not have an abortion, and don't feel comfortable saying that they are not personally for abortion, in their own situation. But one could still say abortion rights, or the equally descriptive pro reproductive rights if they just can't abide by the word abortion in describing your position on it. *
Using the term pro-abortion to describe my attitude politically and personally. I haven't had an abortion, but I might need one next month, or the month after. My partner and I always take measures to prevent pregnancy, but birth control fails. If it did, I would be on the phone to Planned Parenthood to plan my abortion posthaste. Other women may make another choice, and good for them, but if they want an abortion I think they should get it on demand. I am politically, personally, rhetorically, and literally pro-abortion.
ETA for clarity: I am for abortions. I am for aborting fetuses. This does not imply that I am for aborting all fetuses, any more than folks who say anti-choice are saying that anti-abortion rights folks are against all choices, ever.
This is not a theoretical or philosophical choice. I don't pretend that this is about the right to choose. For me, it's about the right to have an abortion. And I'm not alone - it's not a theoretical choice for many, many women. It's a choice, yes, but it's not really a choice for me - and I've got a lot more options than many many women. I am not ready financially, emotionally, or physically to carry a child.
It's not a theoretical choice for me. It's the way that I know I can continue to have authority over my own body.
*Perhaps I am, in turn, being too judgemental. How should I decree how other women describe their position towards such a personal subject? Folks should use the language they're comfortable with. This is a summary of the years-long argument I've been having with myself on the issue.