Hey, everyone! Sorry for not posting on Friday (like I was meant to), but been super busy like every student out there. This is a piece I wrote a while ago but I’ve revised it and changed it over and over to post on here. It’s not overly linked to sex education but I strongly believe these discussions should be raised for young people to talk about. It’s perfectly OK for people to ask “Why?” Which is exactly what I’m aiming to do with this blog…
The debate on whether a woman should have the right to an abortion or not has been centred at the heart of societal controversy for decades. Since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v Wade, any woman has legally been granted the right decide for herself without governmental influence. That hasn’t stopped right-wing legislatures such as House Bill 2 in Texas gaining significant state-wide and some national support. Although, this particular case has been revoked because it caused abortion-seekers an immense course of obstacles to practice their lawful rights.
The two major standpoints in this debate are:
- Firstly; pro-choice. A person that fully supports any woman’s right to an abortion and believes there is justifiable reasoning not to deny their agency in such matters like these. A person who is seen as an advocate for the legalisation of easy-access abortion.
- Secondly; pro-life. This usually means a person who operates under the premise that they are an advocate for equal human dignity and wish to deny women the intentional killing of unborn humans.
It’s difficult for anyone to not have a strong opinion on this topic as it fills our social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and is reported by several advocacy websites (even without the involvement of left-wing and right-wing politics). How can someone be pro-life and then support military activity in the Middle East or actively oppose gun control? That baffles me! It is for this reason that I propose the two major stances to be labelled ‘pro-choice’ and ‘anti-abortion’.
WHY PRO-LIFE IS PROBLEMATIC
No matter what side of the debate you may land, it can still be argued that ‘pro-life’ is a problematic phrase. I narrow this down to four main explanations:
- It’s such an umbrella term. Pro-life in what sense? Pro-quality of life or pro-preservation of life or pro-life for the mother, the child, or both? People might advocate the choice of the mother, but need to consider that maybe the quality of the life for the mother OR the child is not positive. Pro-choice is definitive in its description – you believe in the agency of the party making the conscience decision to carry out the abortion procedure. Pro-life is interpretive and isn’t representative of its true meaning.
- It is not descriptive of its cause. A common argument for pro-life is that government intervention can make better decisions for pregnant women than they can themselves. Yet pro-life does not do this, anti-abortion or anti-choice does. “Pro-life” appears to provide the advocates with a moral standing. When someone says pro-life, it sounds seemingly positive; but in doing so denies what it really stands for. If I were to say I’m pro-gun ownership, people will assume that I do not want regulations or legal guidelines set in place. But if I replaced that with “pro-home protection”, the implication of safe arms regulations is not only visible, but it outlines the motives of the movement better.
- Pro-life can remove the safety of the mother and puts it as second class. Obviously, I am not saying the child’s life doesn’t matter because it really does! That’s why this debate is so important – because it’s not one-dimensional. There have been medical circumstances documented throughout the years in which the mother’s health is at risk and may even face fatal consequences if made to go through childbirth. The Guardian recently commented that the state of Texas has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world. Pro-life is based upon the concept that we shouldn’t play God, that we shouldn’t interfere with what naturally occurs. Pro-life is just as much of an interference as pro-choice – this is an unavoidable consequence. Yet, pro-choice means the safety of the mother is considered, as well as the social and economic circumstance of the parent(s), and how the pregnancy occurred rather than disregarding such a crucial factor (and a potential reason for abortion-seekers). If the argument of this side is pro-choice means pro-abortion agency, then pro-life must mean anti-abortion.
- Someone may be pro-life as well as pro-choice, but each circumstance is different to the next one. For example, the quality of life is paramount. This cannot be argued. But when this is compromised, then the values of pro-choice take charge. I am pro-choice, but I am pro-life in the sense that I recognise that life is important, whether it is the life of the mother or child. It should not be a governmental force which decides the outcome. As I stated previously, pro-life is clearly an interpretative term and can be subject to meaning a number of ideas – my interpretation of pro-life falls into that of pro-choice also.
The solution is simple. I propose that “pro-life” arguments should be renamed “anti-abortion” arguments in order to clarify the aim of the movement rather than misconstrue the morality of such an idea. While somebody may be pro-choice and pro-life in any range of circumstances, it would be seriously difficult to identify as both pro-choice and anti-abortion. It also positions both standpoints in opposition. The confusion of pro-life can be avoided if the two concepts remain separate and distant from one another; which is especially useful when the conversation continues at such a controversial time.