Pro-life, or Anti-Choice?

[This article was originally posted to the Freethinkers Google Group on March 15th, 2012. It has been edited slightly; in doing further research, I learned that while it may be true that most medical professionals draw the line around that time, depending on their preference for pain sensation or viability as a metric, many countries insist on placing it earlier. I can’t justify claiming a majority of pro-choice people agree with me, only a large number of experts, so I’ve watered things down appropriately.]

After carefully mulling it over, I recently decided to start calling the “pro-life” camp “anti-choicers.” During the recent abortion flare-up, I got called out for it on Facebook, which led to this:

“I suppose I should defend my use of “anti-choice.” The label “pro-life” implies that camp is more protective of life than the other side, but is that the case? I, too, think life is worthy of protection. Most of the pro-choice people I know would agree; it’s why we I agree with doctors who refuse to abort without medical necessity past the 22-ish week mark, because the fetus *may* have gained consciousness and thus is a life worth protecting. We’re I’m not sure about that, but we’d I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Both sides respect life, and I’d argue we protect it with equal passion. Where we  differ is in where life starts. However, that doesn’t make for a snappy sales pitch, and so one side has declared themselves “pro-life” when they really don’t deserve the label.

Studies have shown that making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions, it merely pushes them underground, resulting in many physically and emotionally scarred women. The pro-choice side accepts this reality, and would rather compromise and offer up the choice of a safe, legal medical procedure instead. “Pro-lifers” ignore this reality, and restrict women’s choices both legally and socially; the latter by hammering in a message of guilt and shame. Since this is inherently negative, “anti-choice” seems much more accurate a label than “pro-life,” at least to me.

As if to underscore the point, Ophelia Benson just posted this sad tale that
shows one anecdote of how the anti-choicers really do try to remove choice, if not literally than by liberal application of shame and lies:

Instead, before I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly.  If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly. […]

“I don’t *want* to have to do this at all,” I told her. “I’m doing this to prevent my baby’s suffering. I don’t *want* another sonogram when I’ve already had two today. I don’t *want* to hear a description of the life I’m about to end. Please,” I said, “I can’t take any more pain.” I confess that I don’t know why I said that. I knew it was fait accompli. The counselor could no more change the government requirement than I could. Yet here was a superfluous layer of torment piled upon an already horrific day, and I wanted this woman to know it. […]

“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.

“Here I see a well-developed diaphragm and here I see four healthy chambers of the heart…”

I closed my eyes and waited for it to end, as one waits for the car to stop rolling at the end of a terrible accident.

When the description was finally over, the doctor held up a script and said he was legally obliged to read me information provided by the state. It was about the health dangers of having an abortion, the risks of infection or hemorrhage, the potential for infertility and my increased chance of getting breast cancer.

That last item, by the way, is a state-sanctioned lie.


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