Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-Abortion: A Matter of Definition

Words are important.

In his guest-post the other day, my friend Todd expressed his frustration with various commentators — one in particular — misusing the term “isolationist/ism” in a way that mischaracterizes what some people actually stand for. It’s a valid concern.

3D sonogram

3D sonogram of unborn child (apparently auditioning for American Idol)

Anyone who participates in or watches/listens to enough debates will tell you it’s crucial to make sure everyone is using the same terms in the same way. Otherwise, there is misunderstanding (by debaters and audience alike) and confusion and talking past one another, etc. A fair and productive debate can only be had if definitions of the significant terms are mutually understood. Unfortunately, it is common practice by some to purposely equivocate, so as to make their arguments (such as they are) sound more reasonable and/or those of their opponents to sound unreasonable or silly.

In a debate in “the public square”, it may be argued that, if you can be first to define the terms, you’re already half-way to winning. In America’s debate over abortion, those who fight for a woman’s “right” to have the procedure prefer to call themselves “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion”. “No one is for abortion,” they insist. But, that’s being disingenuous, if you ask me.

Being “pro-choice” makes it sound so much more agreeable — like you just want everyone to be able to make up their own mind and do whatever is “best for them.” Sounds reasonable, right? Gotta be free to do what we want, right? Keep the government out of our bedrooms and medical decisions, right? (How ironic, coming from those who push for government intervention in so many other areas, including legislation like Obamacare).

I have two problems with this. First, even in “free” America, there are certain things we are not allowed to do. In general, any act that would unlawfully (and without due process) deprive someone of their life, liberty, or personal property is prohibited. We have many laws to keep people safe, for instance, by regulating or forbidding certain behavior. Certain freedoms trump others, and most sacred is the right to life. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, but any religious ritual that takes (or possibly risks?) a human life is criminal and punishable by law — whether cultic human sacrifice or a jihadist suicide bombing. For this same reason, elective abortion should be made a crime. Many pro-choicers even recognize that life begins at conception, so they have to resort to other arguments to try to justify why murdering unborn human babies is okay.

Question: Would these same people be “pro-choice” for slavery? Would they fight for the right of one person to choose to own another, thereby giving the owner the right to treat their slaves as mere property, rather than as human beings intrinsically worthy of respect and individual freedom? I doubt it, because they recognize such a thing is morally reprehensible. (They will also likely act as if slavery is objectively evil, even if they have no way of grounding such a moral absolute in a typical worldview of moral relativism.) Well, the “pro-life” position is that the unborn are fully human and worthy of protection like any other, so killing such defenseless innocents — particularly for reasons of mere inconvenience — is also morally reprehensible.

Pro-Choice activist snarling and pointingSecond, the pro-choice/abortion crowd — well, the big players, anyway — may say you have a choice, but if you disagree with them or decide to have your baby when you might have good reason (in their mind) to have an abortion, they’ll attack you faster than angry Canucks fans in Vancouver. For example, notice how much grief they gave Sarah Palin, because (among other reasons) she is not only staunchly pro-life but “walked the talk” by giving birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome. And, they fight so hard to keep girls & women who might otherwise lean toward abortion from hearing & seeing pro-life material. Heck, some of them even want to fine or ban pro-lifers from speaking out in defense of the unborn. God forbid someone actually choose life rather than death for their baby!

This brings me to the other pro-abortion mantra to keep it “safe, legal, and rare.” Abortion is never safe for the child; s/he dies 99.99% of the time. Of course, it isn’t rare, either — not by a longshot. Roughly 1 million abortions are performed every year in the U.S., now. Over 53 million done since the Roe v Wade (1973) ruling. And, groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood don’t really want to make abortion “rare”. That would have a negative impact on their “progressive”, amoral agenda and cut into their profits. Abortion is both ideologically significant and Big Business!

So, let’s be honest, here. A pro-choicer may not like being called “pro-abortion”, but they obviously are, since they want the choice of abortion to be available. In essence, they want irresponsible people (teens and adults) to be able to have sex with whomever they want whenever they want and not have to deal with long-term consequences — or, “be punished with a baby”, as President Obama put it. The pro-lifer, on the other hand, while stressing the “life” part of the equation, is indeed anti-abortion, because they — and I include myself, here — believe that abortion is a form of murder. It is the unjustified taking of human life, and that should not be a free and legal choice.

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