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And this is why Kyle rocks:

A few years ago in Canada, a group known as the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) conducted a tour, stopping at various university campuses. They forwarded the simple message, "Abortion is genocide - the systematic elimination of a people - and is morally as reprehensible." Their actual arguments behind this claim were perhaps questionable, but regardless were drowned out by the sheer force of their presentation. Posters depicted graphic photographs of aborted fetuses, gruesome scenes from historical "ethnic cleansings", and slogans which suggested a woman who has an abortion may as well have been Mr. Hitler himself. The shock effect of this campaign was successful: outraged students destroyed the displays, police were posted, and lawsuits were launched. Many were swayed, many were appalled, but one thing was certain: A clear line had been drawn. What was less certain was: between whom? I submit that a line was drawn not between "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice", but rather between "Pro-Life" and "Anti-Abortion"; furthermore, I submit that Sussex's Pro-Life group is misrepresenting their cause.

The terms "Life" and "Choice" are unquestionably loaded. When prefixed with "Pro", either term, while not logically implicating, is prone to suggesting that the rejection of the term is necessarily the endorsement of the prefix "Anti" instead: If you're not Pro-Life, you're Anti-Life (i.e. you support murder). If you're not Pro-Choice, you're Anti-Choice (i.e. you hope to impose your own beliefs on others).

So strong are connotations of this language, I'm surprised that I have yet to be handed a leaflet reading, "You have no choice - KILL!"

Language can be deceiving. As Hannah Weisfeld suggests, "Being Pro-Choice does not mean pro-abortion". Can a similar claim be made by "Pro-Life"? Let's try: "Being Pro-Life does not mean being pro-pregnancy" seems to be the syntactic equivalent.

Hm. Something seems amiss.

Simple redescription shows how language has played a trick here. Consider: "Being Pro-Choice does not mean that, if you get pregnant, you ought to get an abortion," versus "Being Pro-Life does not mean that, if you get pregnant, you ought to carry to term". The difference here is that the latter statement is false, for that is EXACTLY what Pro-Life "means" - if you get pregnant, you ought to carry to term.

"If you get pregnant, you ought to carry to term" - this raises the question: Why? The possible answers are - either (1) because life/pregnancy/childbirth is good, (2) because abortion is bad, or (3) (1) and (2) combined. Now, nobody is going to reject (1) and claim "life/pregnancy/childbirth is bad", nor are they going to reject (2) and claim "abortion is good". In fact, I think you'll find both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life will stake a claim to (3). It's how they approach (2) that differs.

Both sides will agree that abortion is "bad" in a certain sense. For most unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, it is a very challenging situation in in the first place, and is generally not one that any woman hopes to be in. Abortion is a procedure that no woman desires. Both sides will admit that there is a variable, possibly serious, amount of psychological trauma involved. Nobody will counsel a woman with "Go have an abortion, it'll be a great time; we'll go for drinks afterwards!" The difference is, those who claim to be Pro-Choice will allow for the possibility of abortion; those who claim to be Pro-Life will forbid it outright.

One thing is clear, however: To prescribe the absolute forbidding of abortion is clearly to be anti-abortion. A quick read of Matthew O'Gorman's article will reveal such an argument - one against the alleged "evils of abortion", one which incorporates issues ranging from health to corporate evils. It labels itself "Pro-Life", yet it does virtually nothing to forward a positive argument for the benefits of carrying to term, heavily relying instead on arguments against abortion. I reiterate for emphasis: this cries "anti-abortion".

However, it helps us identify a hitherto missing piece of this puzzle: The argument in favour of (1). Where, I ask, is the group that extolls the benefits of pregnancy and carrying to term as their primary argument? The one that says, "you ought to carry to term because carrying to term is good", rather than "you ought to carry to term because abortion is bad". Where is the group that defends the fetus, but won't cry "MURDER!" when a woman decides otherwise? Where, and for that matter, who is this ominous third group?

I submit that the missing group is, in fact, the rightful heir to the title Pro-Life. It is the group that can claim, "Being Pro-Life does not mean being Anti-Abortionist". Pro-Choice would have you believe it fits this bill, and arguably comes closest, but nonetheless falls short because it is concerned with the choice of the woman first, and the fetus second. The group that exemplifies Mr. O'Gorman's article cannot claim to be this group. It is clear that they instead choose to focus on the negative aspect of abortion first, the fetus second.

Is such a group inconceivable? One which tips its hat to both Pro-Choice, and accepts the argument that there is a need for the availability of abortions? A group that chooses to de-emphasise abortion, and emphasise things like contraception education, pregnancy eduction, adoption education, and so forth. This group would not carry signs that said, "Abortion is murder," but rather "Why not love your fetus?". This group at best says, "Pro-Life", and at worst, "Pro-Child" or "Pro-Mother". Yet, when I read Mr. O'Gorman's article, the only message I see is "Anti-Abortion". Admittedly, the ideology of this third group is far from being radical. However, such an approach is certainly overlooked, and is grossly under-represented.

When the GAP rolled through my hometown of Vancouver 3 years ago, they certainly got people thinking. Some of my hitherto Pro-Choice friends were so persuaded by the strong visual imagery that they could no longer support abortion - GAP had succeeded with them. This conversion in no way came from a positive argument in favour of carrying to term - it was clearly an argument against abortion. While the GAP took the anti-abortion argument to the extreme, it was nonetheless no more than a beefed-up manifestation of the same argument used by groups who call themselves "Pro-Life".

Thus, I submit that, by labelling themselves as such, the "Pro-Life" groups do everyone a disservice, including themselves. They misrepresent their own message, which is clearly an anti-abortionist one, and they obfuscate a viable alternative approach - one which has a more legitimate claim to the name "Pro-Life". In conclusion, whether Sussex is Anti-Abortionist or Pro-Choice I cannot say; however, what is clear to me is that there is no Pro-Life representation available thus far.

© Kyle Murray, 2003
Original Source


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This is an absolutely wonderful, no-bullshit discussion of this issue. As a woman, it's the first time I've ever read anything on the subject that made me want to grin and applaud rather than run and regurgitate my lunch.

remohraz: My most sincere compliments. You get cooler by the minute.

And I think that is one of the most gratifying compliments anything I've written has ever received. Thank you. :)

on a completely unrelated topic:

'[01 Jun 2003|01:19am]
Oxford Uni f'ing sucks'

and you were too scared to enable comments. :P

The reason for that wasn't fear - but I can't tell you what it actually was :o)

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Nuh uh - my mummy used to refer to it as Oxfrod when I was little, back when you lived in COVENTRY!!!

(Deleted comment)
*does the 'You're From Coventry' dance*


(Deleted comment)
and now mine too *embraces*

(Deleted comment)
Oh piss off, both of you :oP

ok. come nikki! let us frolic and make sweet sweet love!

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