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Planned Parenthood moves away from the label "pro-choice."
January 15, 2013 4:11 PM   Subscribe

With the "Not in Her Shoes" video release, and just in advance of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood is reframing the debate about abortion. "...Pro-choice and pro-life labels don’t reflect the complexity of the conversation about abortion, and the way that Americans — especially young people — think and talk about abortion today."
posted by Stewriffic (134 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm wondering how NARAL Pro-Choice America feels about the change in direction.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:13 PM on January 15, 2013


I think the Republicans have already done a decent job of reframing it as "Generally Pro-Women" v. "Crazy Rapey Bullshit."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [40 favorites]


Here's an article on Salon about it.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:16 PM on January 15, 2013


One last thing i forgot: Here's the press release I got the quote from.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2013


I never liked the Anti-Abortion designation of "Pro-Life", preferring the more accurate "Forced Childbirth".
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [56 favorites]


I think the Republicans have already done a decent job of reframing it as "Generally Pro-Women" v. "Crazy Rapey Bullshit."

You talking about the ones who don't believe the crazy rapey bullshit?

Though, I still find most of them are Pro-Faith rather than Pro-Life, particularly with stories (albeit extremely rare ones) where a mother ends up dying due to a pregnancy that could have been avoided by an abortion. They frame it as Pro-Faith and not as Pro-Women. There are exceptions as there are atheist Republicans, but this is the general rule.
posted by thetoken at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2013


I don't know if this is a knee-jerk reaction, but my first thought is that this is retrograde and probably not great news for women's rights.

I guess it just reeks of the "I'm not a feminist, but..." discussion and folks who genuinely think feminists should stop calling ourselves feminists because it sounds scary.

I'm pro-choice. While my feelings about abortion -- as with most things -- are nuanced, no, actually, I don't think it's complicated, and I am just fine with calling myself what I am, which is a pro-choice feminist.
posted by Sara C. at 4:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [58 favorites]


I miss my old bumper sticker - abortion, on demand and without apology.
posted by PuppyCat at 4:43 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


It actually really spoke to me. A lot of the women who have unwanted pregnancies are young enough that their personal political beliefs are not formed enough to call themselves pro-choice or pro-life. These young women are put in the position of having to make a potentially life-changing decision, and when that decision is based in politics it dehumanizes it and makes it that much harder.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:44 PM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


It seems to be about pandering to people who think abortion is okay sometimes, maybe, if we don't call it abortion too hard and pretend like we're all going to be sad and serious about it for a good long time to prove that we're not frivolous sluts.

The Overton window doesn't work like that. We're fighting to hold on to legal birth control, for god's sake, because of the extremely loud and well-funded ABORTION IS MURDER JESUS BABIES THE POPE EVIL SLUTS lobby.

I never liked the Anti-Abortion designation of "Pro-Life", preferring the more accurate "Forced Childbirth".

I like Pro-Theocracy because it really bothers people who generally see theocracy as just an evil Islam thing whereas America is the Land Of the Free (as long as you're my kind of Christian)
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [42 favorites]


I don't think Planned Parenthood is trying to stop anyone from identifying as pro-choice or a feminist; I think they correctly realize that a large percentage of the United States doesn't share the demographics of Metafilter and might be convinced by different things than most of the people who comment on this site are convinced by. Even if you can make a compelling intellectual case for why the term "pro-choice" makes sense in theory, the reality is that the phrase is considered polarizing. Many people who hear it picture a certain political side which might not be the side they'd generally like to be on (which could be due to other issues that have little or nothing to do with abortion). If this attempt at reframing manages to get a lot of people to realize that legal abortion means leaving difficult decisions up to the people who are able to see the specific situations, rather than letting government officials control people's lives from the top down, I'm in favor of it.
posted by John Cohen at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


A lot of the women who have unwanted pregnancies are young enough that their personal political beliefs are not formed enough to call themselves pro-choice or pro-life.

I'm sure this is my privilege showing, and obviously PP should do what works for them on an organizational level, and what helps the most women get necessary health services.

But my female peers and I knew which side of the fence we were on by the time we were in eighth or ninth grade, so, right at the age at which we could technically become pregnant (but long before the age at which we were likely to become pregnant, or at which we would be expected to face this sort of life decision).

I grew up in a socially conservative community where teenagers are not expected to be political at all, and yet if you'd canvassed every thirteen year old girl in school, we'd have all been able to explain our thoughts about abortion.

I think this is a lot more about Planned Parenthood's mission statement and public reputation, and not so much about individual women. Which doesn't mean I think it's wrong of them to pursue this course, I just think it's vaguely disingenuous in an reactionary sort of way.
posted by Sara C. at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


As I said on Facebook today, imagine how different the debate over abortion would be if framed as "abortion rights" versus "abortion control". Sadly, tribalism and propaganda have long eclipsed rational debates of the costs and benefits of abortion, to the point where organizations like Planned Parenthood or National Right-to-Life seem to consider the rhetoric of the debate more important than the substance.
posted by Xenophon Fenderson at 4:55 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


How many times do I have to say it? Anti-abortion views aren't "pro-life", they're pro-coat-hanger.
posted by notsnot at 4:59 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Pro-choice" already means "it's complicated and everybody needs to be able to make their own decision." This rebranding is only necessary because the right has framed it as the opposite to "pro-life," which makes the side that favors choice into pro-abortion.

Renaming it isn't going to change this framing. As long as you support people's right to choose the health care decision that they feel is best for them, you're on the opposite side of the so-called pro-choice divide, and they will frame the debate to make you baby killers. There's no way to rebrand yourself in such a way that avoids this dynamic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:02 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


These young women are put in the position of having to make a potentially life-changing decision, and when that decision is based in politics it dehumanizes it and makes it that much harder.

What? I can't decide if this is the abortion debate version of thr cop out of "both sides do it" or the variant of "it's not the right time to talk about gun control".

If not for the decades of hard fought struggle and politicking she wouldn't have a god damn decision to make. The opposite of have an abortion is don't have an abortion not remove the choice entirely.
posted by Talez at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


By allowing the term "pro-life" to become accepted, we feminist pro-choice people have allowed the other team to control the discourse. Bad mistake.
posted by scratch at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Anti-abortion views aren't "pro-life", they're pro-coat-hanger.

I've had more success calling them the "Forced Birther crowd". For some reason that description really manages to make the people I've spoken to about this (particularly men), actually stop and think about the pregnant woman and what they're demanding that she do.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:05 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


I guess it just reeks of the "I'm not a feminist, but..." discussion

This, a thousand times this, yes.
posted by scratch at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


A lot of the women who have unwanted pregnancies are young enough that their personal political beliefs are not formed enough to call themselves pro-choice or pro-life.

It doesn't really matter what their "personal beliefs" are.

What we are talking about here is whether they think their beliefs should be forced on everyone else.
posted by caryatid at 5:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think that the labels pro-choice and pro-life put people in boxes. Abortion is not a boxed-in issue, it's a very complex issue it has a lot of different parts to it, a lot of decision making goes behind a woman deciding to have an abortion so putting a label on it is just not fair.

You can almost see the original draft that said "...goes behind a woman choosing to have an abortion...." The idea that "pro-choice" needs more nuance reminds of the scene in Airheads where, having taken a radio station hostage to get on the air, Brendan Fraser declares for his band, "All we want to say is that we want to be heard." "Pro-choice" encompasses all decision-making nuance; "pro-life" is not a policy position regarding the legality of abortion.
posted by aaronetc at 5:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


What we are talking about here is whether they think their beliefs should be forced on everyone else.

And here I thought we were talking about Planned Parenthood's ad campaign.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this was a straight-up pro-choice video. I guess we can stop using the old word if you want, but if you really think anyone who wants abortion to be illegal will spend more than 1 minute and 41 seconds considering your position, you're pretty deluded.
posted by cthuljew at 5:22 PM on January 15, 2013


Ugh this bullshit was is the Time magazine at the doctor's office today. I rolled my eyes at that and I roll my eyes at this.
posted by aerotive at 5:37 PM on January 15, 2013


Exactly. I would happily give up the label "Pro-Choice" if the other side would give up the term "Pro-life." Then, maybe, we could begin to have a dialog. But they never will give it up because their argument always boils down to "Abortion is murder," conjuring up the murder of sweet, sweet babies.

So my motto remains: My body, my choice.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Et tu, Planned Parenthood?
posted by lydhre at 5:42 PM on January 15, 2013


I'll be happy to use "pro-woman". I think we'd be better off if women were making more decisions about where we're headed. We need more female leaders everywhere.

The other side, obviously, is pro-zygote. They place more value in a few undifferentiated cells than a real person. Fuck 'em.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


This made me really angry in the way that the young-rope rider already stated and I wish it didn't, I wish it was something I feel good about but I don't feel like I'm being boxed in by calling myself a pro-choice feminist because that's precisely what's being communicated as a positive value in this video despite verbiage to the contrary.

It's just like all that bullshit "teach the controversy" stuff about evolution.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:51 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Et tu, Planned Parenthood?

Don't shit on Planned Parenthood for this. Their mission is to provide access to reproductive health services, and I think part of that mission involves engaging in good PR. Activism alienates some people, and being the biggest, loudest target draws fire.

Of course, we know that all public relations is bullshit and cynical manipulation. So it's up to the rest of the folks who feel strongly about abortion rights to keep engaging the people who want to see those rights destroyed. And that's a good thing-- let other advocates take more of attacks while Planned Parenthood provides the services. It would help them in their primary role if they don't also have to be the vanguard of the politics surrounding abortion. I dunno it this could even work, but I get why they're doing it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's a fantastic article at RH Reality Check detailing some of the critiques of the term "pro-choice" on economic, social, philosophical, and cultural grounds.
posted by kelseyq at 6:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just don't think this campaign is going to work. I think the fundamental premise is wrong. In my experience, people have thought about whether they believe abortion should be a legal decision for a woman to make. They aren't just reacting to the labels. There is a significant middle group of people who believe abortion should be legal, but only in limited circumstances. I can see why each side will try to sway those folks, but don't believe this ad will do so.
posted by Area Man at 6:09 PM on January 15, 2013


sweet, sweet babies.

So tender and mild.
posted by acb at 6:11 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have spoken to a lot of college-age women who clearly are confused about what the labels "pro choice" and "pro life" are meant to stand for. Many of them say, "I'm pro-life but I would never tell someone else what to do." A few will say, "women should have free choice, but it should be illegal for doctors to perform abortions." I don't know a good way to resolve this, but I can understand why PP would feel that a change in slogans would be worthwhile.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know I'm old and tired of arguing about this, but my position is: all reproductive decisions are about a woman, her concerns and her doctor. And everybody else needs to step back down and support her, whatever she decides.
posted by SPrintF at 6:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


""This is an issue beyond the ways in which we define one another. Abortion is a private health matter, plain and simple. If you think about it, abortion is about choice and life, so really the labels we've previously placed on this term don't even make sense."

This is one of the quotes on their main page, but... it's not true.

Millions of people in this country do not see abortion as a private health matter, "plain and simple" or not. Millions of people don't want abortion to be covered even under private health insurance. Lobbyists successfully bar the federal government from covering abortion with public insurance, and they continue to fight for companies' right to not cover contraception so that women don't even have the choice of controlling their fertility.

The only way to keep abortion a "private health matter" is to be pro-choice.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't described myself as "pro-choice" in years. Instead, I refer to myself as a supporter of reproductive liberty.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was raised by two pro-choice feminists. I wrote a pro-choice essay in social studies class when I was like 11 years old, and went on to both be a women's and gender studies major and run a feminist, pro-choice student organization in college.

All this to say that I have never NOT been pro-choice, and actively so. BUT for years I never really felt comfortable with the label. Because to me, "choice" like a bit of a weak argument. It wasn't until I learned about all the women who'd died from back-alley abortions pre-Roe v Wade that I really, really understood on a deep level why abortion rights were so important. And that has always driven me more than the word or concept of "choice."

Honestly, I think the framing of abortion rights as being about "choice" is a historical accident and hasn't done the movement any favors. I'm really happy to see this shift.
posted by lunasol at 7:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like Pro-Theocracy because it really bothers people who generally see theocracy as just an evil Islam thing whereas America is the Land Of the Free (as long as you're my kind of Christian)

Having grown up in eastern Massachusetts, I didn't appreciate the justice of this framing until I covered a Planned Parenthood rally on the Common for my college paper. A bunch of people from an especially right-wing lay Catholic group came. They held huge red banners emblazoned with a three-word slogan along the lines of "Order, Family, Honor," and they wore red jackets. They shouted "Shame!" over every speaker. When they didn't do that, they sang hymns.

They were all men. They had a ghoulish effect on the rally.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:17 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Chalk me up as another vote for Pro-Woman, supporting every opportunity, explicit or implicit, to brand the other side as Anti-Woman. I honestly don't feel that an objective assessment of reality needs to be more nuanced than that, at this point. It certainly makes a whole hell of a lot more sense than the currently accepted labels.
posted by Brak at 7:30 PM on January 15, 2013


I'm a long time pro-choice activist and while I understand the need for this video, I still gotta shake my head. When the label that emphasizes "choice" is considered too polarizing in a land where there are, like, 10 kinds of peanut butter, something is wrong.

Between the massive amount of abortion restrictions passing on the state level, the continued arguments over birth control and now this, I feel like we (feminists, women's health activists, pro-choicers, whatever we want to call ourselves) are losing this battle somehow.

I am pretty "abortion on demand and without apology" and I understand that folks in the center are all "abortion is kinda shady...but should be regulated in case I need one." How do we bridge that divide?

As far as labels are concerned, I am really starting to like the term "Reproductive Justice" which is increasingly used by women of color to include access to abortion, birth control and social support for raising children. When defining the opposition I use the term "Forced Birth Movement" because I think it's accurate and focuses on what the results of all the anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-support legislation will be.
posted by Misty_Knightmare at 7:42 PM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


I am pretty "abortion on demand and without apology" and I understand that folks in the center are all "abortion is kinda shady...but should be regulated in case I need one." How do we bridge that divide?

Here's the thing, though. We already did that. Feminism went from, in the 70's, advocating "Free Abortion On Demand" to, by the 90's, advocating "Choice".

The issue now isn't "well, OK, maybe we can couch our views in more neutral terminology to help less radical folks see how much they already agree with us."

At this point, this issue is, "we better start backpedaling before we lose everything."

It's obvious that this is the direct fallout from the attempts to disembowel Planned Parenthood over the last year or so. It's frustrating and sad and I refuse to see it as some kind of savvy marketing decision.
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


So, as someone who works in social advocacy messaging, what I can say is that:

1) This is about what to call ourselves to maximize political leverage.
2) This isn't about what to call them; we can't control that.
3) "Pro-choice" tests poorly and elicits an emotional reaction that's a barrier to persuasion.

So, what's missing is an effective term that doesn't turn people off, especially young women. The No Labels sort of mishmosh they've got right now isn't a great replacement; when thinking of replacements, though, they've got to be pithy, accurate and not freak out people in the middle.

Liberals tend to win once they can get people to be reflective. Conservatives tend to win when they can freak people out and shut down conversation. We don't necessarily have the reflective slogan we need.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've never understood the line of argument that says something like, "They don't get to be called 'pro-life' because they aren't against the death penalty and aren't for social service programs to help raise children" (i.e. "they aren't always 'pro-life'") when those who use the term "pro-choice" aren't in favor of all choices. Is it just me or is this rhetorical hypocrisy?
posted by koavf at 9:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The American right, through years of angry talk radio ranting, was able to turn "liberal" into a bad word. In response, liberals decided to call themselves "progressives" instead. So of course Limbaugh et. al. simply shifted to attacking "secular progressives" instead of "secular liberals", and now when a liberal self-identifies as progressive, nobody knows what the fuck they actually stand for ("you mean like Teddy Roosevelt?")

Thanks to the the "New Democrats" (who were trying to run away from the supposedly forever-tarnished legacy of Jimmy Carter) taxes have been transformed from a mechanism for pooling our resources for the common good into a mechanism for confiscation of wealth from "makers" to be given to "takers." So now Democrats run as centrists, advocating "grand bargains" where safety net programs are negotiable in exchange for a deal where the world economy isn't destroyed for another year or two.

As a matter of fact, I just fell into this rebranding trap myself by using "safety net" instead of "welfare" which is itself a bad word now not just because of Reagan's "welfare queens driving pink Cadillacs to the liquor store", but also because of Clinton's "ending welfare as we know it."

Does anyone think these rhetorical retreats have helped win the messaging war?

Where exactly is this evidence that pro-choice tests poorly? Is it in response to a binary choice between "pro-choice" and "pro-life"? Obviously the team that decided to call themselves "pro-life" gets a big rhetorical advantage from the insinuation that their opponents are "pro-death," but instead of playing defense, why not go on the offense, pointing out the many ways pro-life is actually pro-death?

"Pro-woman" might sound good in a Frank-Luntz-ian way, but it's a new label that people are unfamiliar with, so it will take a significant amount of resources to gain mind share among the voting public. It's also vulnerable to the "well, we all love the woman, but won't anyone think of the children?" attack.

Amanda Marcotte is right that you can't just wish away the public's desire for labels as shorthand. Even if pro-choice isn't the best focus-group-tested term out there, can we just hang on to it because the public knows what it means, or maybe just because we haven't ever tried fighting to keep our lunch money when the bully comes to take it away?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:13 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


At this point, this issue is, "we better start backpedaling before we lose everything."

Honestly, I think this is pretty unlikely. Most polls show the American public getting more and more supportive of reproductive rights. And 2012 was the first election year in a long time where reproductive rights being politicized played to the benefits of liberals, not conservatives.

Planned Parenthood has stood really strong in the face of these attacks and, frankly, I think it's pretty unfair to assume they're just trying to cover their own asses.
posted by lunasol at 10:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think this is pretty unlikely. Most polls show the American public getting more and more supportive of reproductive rights. And 2012 was the first election year in a long time where reproductive rights being politicized played to the benefits of liberals, not conservatives.

The problem is that this doesn't translate to state legislatures willing to leave abortion providers alone. Even if people are in favour of reproductive rights other issues along with a healthy set of gerrymandering has resulted in war-on-women/slut shaming conservatives dominating state politics even in blue heartlands like Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin.

Lots of states are backsliding in policy to levels once thought unthinkable by liberals half a decade ago. Pretty soon California will be an abortion tourism destination for rich daughters in flyover states and Roe v Wade will exist in name only for half of the union.
posted by Talez at 10:53 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


koavf: I've never understood the line of argument that says something like, "They don't get to be called 'pro-life' because they aren't against the death penalty and aren't for social service programs to help raise children" (i.e. "they aren't always 'pro-life'") when those who use the term "pro-choice" aren't in favor of all choices. Is it just me or is this rhetorical hypocrisy?

Because they don't actually want what they say they want. They call it pro-life, but if you examine the policies they find acceptable, what you inevitably see is that they are anti-sex, not pro-life. Any policy that makes sex safer is absolutely not acceptable, no matter what that policy does to the abortion rates.

They don't want what they say they want, and this is simply pointing that out. The instant the baby is born, conservatives lose all interest. If it dies in a gutter, fine. They're trying to control the woman's behavior; they don't give a fuck about the baby.

I see pro-choicers as being far more honest. They want the woman to be able to make her own choice about this. Typically, they also want to prevent abortions, usually choosing the policies that provably reduce abortions to the minimum number. And then they usually want to support the child after it's born.

These policies are not acceptable to the other side, because they make it easier and safer for women to have sex, and the real goal of their movement is to stop women from having sex outside of marriage.

Pointing and laughing when they call it 'pro-life' is entirely appropriate.
posted by Malor at 10:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Where exactly is this evidence that pro-choice tests poorly? Is it in response to a binary choice between "pro-choice" and "pro-life"?


It "tests poorly" because there are plenty of people who support legal abortion who shy away from the term, much like most people support feminist ideals but "feminist" itself makes people squeamish.

Most surveys find around 6 in 10 support safe, legal abortion, but only 4 in 10 call themselves "pro-choice". The other 2 in 10 are supportive but don't like the label. In contrast, practically everyone who is against legal abortion calls themselves "pro-life".

I haven't seen all the research that went into it, but Planned Parenthood is trying to get at those other 2, who disengage from the debate when "pro-choice" comes up even though they're supportive. This is a very important task that many pro-choice advocates don't remember to take on, so it's very admirable that they are thinking about it. I'm not convinced, though, that replacing it with a handful of nothing is a viable solution.

The problem is that this doesn't translate to state legislatures willing to leave abortion providers alone. Even if people are in favour of reproductive rights other issues along with a healthy set of gerrymandering has resulted in war-on-women/slut shaming conservatives dominating state politics even in blue heartlands like Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin.


I keep preaching to the choir, but elections matter. It is very easily proved that support for reproductive rights has been increasing, but it's totally irrelevant so long as the 2010 wingnut wave remains in power. There's obviously going to be a lag time between public outrage over the systematic destruction of women's basic human dignity and the revenge they will wreak at the ballot box, and the one-sided Republican gerrymanders aren't helping. State legislatures matter on issues like abortion in a way that even Congress doesn't.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it just me or is this rhetorical hypocrisy?

No. They don't get to be called "pro-life" because they are only pro-zygote, not actually pro- any actual existing human being (including the woman in question and her entire family).

Where do you get the idea that "pro-choice" doesn't mean "in favor of all choices"? That is exactly what it means. Being pro-choice means you are in favor of HAVING a choice. It has nothing to do with WHICH choice is made.
posted by caryatid at 11:31 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Planned Parenthood has stood really strong in the face of these attacks and, frankly, I think it's pretty unfair to assume they're just trying to cover their own asses.

I don't intend to catastrophize, but have you been following reproductive rights news over the past year or so?

I'm a Planned Parenthood PAC donor, and I get a frantic phone call once a month begging me to up my monthly donation. I've been a donor for years and it's never been this bad before. They're genuinely hurting for money in the face of politicized funding cuts, and my guess is that this new "we're not a bunch of strident harpies! promise!" tactic is meant to help with that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're trying to control the woman's behavior; they don't give a fuck about the baby.

Exactly. One reliable barometer I have found for the forced birthers is how they react to news stories regarding abortion, stem cell research, and birth control in my local newspaper's online forums. They howl in unison about "killing babies" when it's about abortion rights. They complain in one voice about "having to pay for sluts to have sex" when it's about birth control.

When it's about the woman in Ireland who died because she couldn't get an abortion, or about some court decision regarding the use of embryonic stem cells, there are crickets. Not a peep out of them. Apparently it was fine that the woman paid with her life for being pregnant, and for them, there's nothing special or "alive" about an embryo when it is not surrounded by some woman who needs to be shamed and controlled.
posted by caryatid at 11:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


It is very easily proved that support for reproductive rights has been increasing ...

I would like to see evidence for this claim, especially in light of Gallup polling on abortion, which suggests no significant change in attitudes towards abortion since the 70s and a slight shift to the right since the 90s.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:59 PM on January 15, 2013


Apparently it was fine that the woman paid with her life for being pregnant, and for them, there's nothing special or "alive" about an embryo when it is not surrounded by some woman who needs to be shamed and controlled.

The entire 'pro-choice' movement, in one clause. Nicely done.
posted by Malor at 12:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]



And here I thought we were talking about Planned Parenthood's ad campaign.


Yes, but you brought up the notion that some women making the choice are too young to have formed political opinions, and you claimed that basing the decision in politics dehumanizes it and makes it that much harder.

I was one of those young women in 1972, before Roe v Wade. I can assure you that politics were the very last thing on my mind at that time.

I'm pretty sure my experience was not unique.
posted by caryatid at 12:03 AM on January 16, 2013


I would like to see evidence for this claim, especially in light of Gallup polling on abortion,

About that Gallup poll.
posted by caryatid at 12:09 AM on January 16, 2013


Personally, I think that liberals/progressives (whatever you call us) should simply liberate the pro-life label: we are, on balance, much more pro-life, since we (or at least I) favor raising people out of poverty by redistribution of wealth and state-provided contraception along with increased sex education, which is much more effective at reducing the number of abortions than are personhood amendments.

If we can't come up with something better than the pro-choice label, we can at least take away some of the force of the the pro-life label.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:12 AM on January 16, 2013


Hollywood Upstairs Medical College: "I keep preaching to the choir, but elections matter. It is very easily proved that support for reproductive rights has been increasing, but it's totally irrelevant so long as the 2010 wingnut wave remains in power. There's obviously going to be a lag time between public outrage over the systematic destruction of women's basic human dignity and the revenge they will wreak at the ballot box, and the one-sided Republican gerrymanders aren't helping. State legislatures matter on issues like abortion in a way that even Congress doesn't."

Psst. Hey, Democrats. Psst. How about you run some state and local legislative candidates in my district so I have someone with your view for whom I can vote, hmm? I give money to the state legislative party and have helped campaign. What else can I do? Want me to run? No problem, how about some help with that paperwork.

In my neck of Texas, the Democrats don't even have candidates on the ballot below the state Senate level or, in some case, the statewide races. It's hard to vote for a (D) if they're missing entirely.

HUMC: I realize you're not the intended recipient of my reply; your quote made a useful vehicle.
posted by fireoyster at 12:23 AM on January 16, 2013


caryatid,

What people say on the pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy is not the part of the poll that interests me. What interests me is what people say when asked whether they think abortion should be (a) legal under any circumstances, (b) legal only under certain circumstances, or (c) illegal in all circumstances -- a question that has been asked since the 70s. My point is that those numbers haven't changed much in nearly 40 years. Looking at that breakdown (currently 25/52/20) lets the Salon writer paint a rosy picture for reproductive rights.

But the picture is less rosy for the left if you look at the even better question that Gallup asks, which breaks (b) into (b1) Legal under most circumstances and (b2) Legal only in a few circumstances. The current numbers there are: 25/13/39/20, which puts nearly 60% of the population on the right of the issue. They've only asked that better question since the 90s, but in that time, there has been a slight shift to the right. (That tracks with the slight rise and fall of pro-choice identifiers since the 70s.)

The only real piece of data in that Salon article is that many people have heterosexual sex outside of marriage despite saying that sex between unmarried heterosexuals is morally wrong. But so what? Humans have weak wills. It is not at all uncommon for temporary desires to overcome long-run beliefs, and it is not at all uncommon for people to be sorry about their own actions that they think of as moral failings (whether they are moral failings or not). The Salon writer dismisses this possibility way too easily with no real evidence, in my opinion.

Maybe there are serious flaws in the Gallup methodology, but I would rather this not be a Romney-style failure on our side. We need to know what political attitudes really are and not deceive ourselves. The numbers I've seen suggest little to no movement on the question of abortion and a populace that leans slightly to the right -- with more moderates leaning right and more hardliners on the left. If you have better numbers, I'd be glad to see them. That's why I started out asking for evidence for the claim that Americans increasingly support reproductive rights.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:45 AM on January 16, 2013


So, what's missing is an effective term that doesn't turn people off, especially young women. The No Labels sort of mishmosh they've got right now isn't a great replacement; when thinking of replacements, though, they've got to be pithy, accurate and not freak out people in the middle.

Pro-privacy
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


kelseyq: "There's a fantastic article at RH Reality Check detailing some of the critiques of the term "pro-choice" on economic, social, philosophical, and cultural grounds."

This is a very pithy and excellent read.

---

I am so overwhelmingly supportive of Planned Parenthood's decision and new ad. My additional rationale is perhaps silly or pedantic, but I think it's also telling of part of the language issues surrounding the term "pro-choice"...

I've always gotten the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" mixed up. In conversation, writing, thought ... I have to consciously work through which one I actually mean, almost every single time. Here's why:

(Just mainly focusing on the direct semantics of the terms themselves and breaking them down as such)

With "pro" being common among the two terms, an equivalence is made. This allows the remaining parts of the words to be contrastive. In this case, mutually exclusive (as both camps would want it to be), structurally. Except that the terms themselves aren't contrastive or mutually exclusive, semantically: Problems with the terms "choice" and "life" as they relate to the abortion debate: This isn't even an exhaustive list. My point of all this pedantry is that in addition to the how we know and use these words, their semantic underpinnings of their constituent parts have some psychological prominence in our minds, whether we realize this or not. This is true of all words of course, to varying degrees, but I think it's particularly problematic with these words. It all adds up to making one term more favorable, in that it's more easily understood and conceptually grounded within the bigger framework of what those words mean in other contexts. Pro-life is positively biased, whereas pro-choice is less transparent and mutually exclusive (even though it intends to be inclusive on some accounts). It needs to change.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I'm pro-life but I would never tell someone else what to do."

I would probably have to say something numbnuts like this, if I wouldn't usually not touch the abortion debate with a ten foot pole, because I'm not really comfortable calling myself pro-choice despite kinda actually being it.

Pro-choice for some reason implies for me being comfortable with all choices and I'm not by a long shot (which is my problem obviously).

Pro-privacy. Hm. I really like that.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:07 AM on January 16, 2013


@Malor: There are a lot of pro-life liberals. Associating the pro-life movement entirely with conservative Republicans is some amount of willful ignorance or smearing, especially when there are persons who believe in a Consistent Life Ethic To the extent that conservative Republicans are anti-sex, that in no way invalidates pro-life arguments anymore than (e.g.) Obama having met Bill Ayers makes him a socialist radical.

@Caryatid: To be "pro-choice" is not to be in favor of all choices—the position isn't one of anarchists, or free-market libertarians or somesuch. Pro-choicers are only in favor of choices related to this policy measure. Just like how "pro-lifers" might not be very pro-life in some other arena, a lot of "pro-choicers" aren't in favor of choice when it comes to (e.g.) a private business denying employment to someone based on being in certain classes. Where do you get the idea that zygotes aren't human?
posted by koavf at 2:51 AM on January 16, 2013


Where do you get the idea that "pro-choice" doesn't mean "in favor of all choices"? That is exactly what it means. Being pro-choice means you are in favor of HAVING a choice. It has nothing to do with WHICH choice is made.

Because, just in the way that pro-life doesn't equal anti-death penalty, pro-choice on abortion doesn't equal, say, pro-choice on gun rights. Both terms, thus, are meaningless noise.
posted by corb at 2:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Abortion is bad. Abortion should be legal. Many people have trouble reconciling these two superficially contradictory facts.
posted by foobaz at 3:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oy.

In the context of women's reproductive health (the context we are discussing here, not the context of gun ownership or nuclear power or whether we should seed clouds to make rain), pro-choice is very specifically about letting the woman make the choice: get pregnant or not; carry to term or abort; carry to term and keep it, or give it up for adoption.

I've mostly used the term anti-choice, since it is more clear: those who are against legal abortion are very definitely against allowing the woman to choose to make decisions about her own reproductive life and health.
posted by rtha at 3:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I totally get all the criticisms of this, and in particular it does indeed remind me of the "I'm not a feminist, but..." crowd. However, I still think this is sort of a good idea. Planned Parenthood is doing what their mandate supports - reaching out to women in need. Some women, from certain backgrounds, just get turned off by the pro-life/pro-choice language - and therefore don't access the services at PP. Hopefully this can help PP reach those women.
posted by barnoley at 5:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hollywood Upstairs Medical College: "
Most surveys find around 6 in 10 support safe, legal abortion, but only 4 in 10 call themselves "pro-choice". The other 2 in 10 are supportive but don't like the label. In contrast, practically everyone who is against legal abortion calls themselves "pro-life".

I haven't seen all the research that went into it, but Planned Parenthood is trying to get at those other 2, who disengage from the debate when "pro-choice" comes up even though they're supportive.
"

What I'm seeing in your numbers is that two thirds of those who favor pro choice policy also approve of the pro choice label. Why surrender on it just because the "pro-lifers" have done better with their messaging machine?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:20 AM on January 16, 2013


caryatid: " About that Gallup poll."

The money quote:
It's of course possible that one-third of our nation are swimming in daily guilt about their fornicating ways, but the likelier answer is that most of these people have rationalized their own choices while passing judgment on others.
This. "Abortions for me, but not for thee."
posted by tonycpsu at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I'm seeing in your numbers is that two thirds of those who favor pro choice policy also approve of the pro choice label. Why surrender on it just because the "pro-lifers" have done better with their messaging machine?

Because the fight is for the center. The 2/3 of people who call themselves "pro-choice" aren't likely to abandon the fight because there's a new catchphrase.
posted by Etrigan at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2013


NARAL Pro-Choice America used to be called National Abortion Rights Action League. I know they haven't changed what they stand for, but their message got a lot softer with the name change. I stopped sending them money out after I got a fund-raising letter that was so vague it was hard to tell what they were raising money for. I hope Planned Parenthood doesn't go the same way.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:28 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: " Because the fight is for the center. The 2/3 of people who call themselves "pro-choice" aren't likely to abandon the fight because there's a new catchphrase."

You can fight for the center by muddying your message, or you can fight for the center by clarifying your message. Of course the base isn't going anywhere, but that doesn't mean that the label change is going to help the movement. We need to know more about why those 2 in 10 in the mushy middle feel the way they do, and educate them.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 AM on January 16, 2013


You can fight for the center by muddying your message, or you can fight for the center by clarifying your message. Of course the base isn't going anywhere, but that doesn't mean that the label change is going to help the movement. We need to know more about why those 2 in 10 in the mushy middle feel the way they do, and educate them.

"The other 2 in 10 are supportive but don't like the label." Someone's done that homework. You may not like it, but "pro-choice" seems to have run its course as a way of attracting people to fight for reproductive rights.
posted by Etrigan at 7:43 AM on January 16, 2013


Where do you get the idea that zygotes aren't human?

Zygotes may be human (adjective) but they are not humans (noun). Zygotes are potential humans. You and I and everyone reading this are actual, fully realized humans.
posted by caryatid at 7:49 AM on January 16, 2013


I said we need to know about why they don't like the label. Your suggestion is that the only way they can reach those people is by changing the label, and that is not the case.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:49 AM on January 16, 2013


tonycpsu having identified myself as one of those 1/3 What do you think should that education entail?

Telling me it's perfectly fine to call myself pro-choice?

Yes, 5/10 out of the other 2/3 would likely do that. The other 5/10 would probably just turn very red in the face with anger and tell me to fuck off (maybe rightfully so and I usually do) after I made my feelings about abortion clear.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2013


But my female peers and I knew which side of the fence we were on by the time we were in eighth or ninth grade, so, right at the age at which we could technically become pregnant (but long before the age at which we were likely to become pregnant, or at which we would be expected to face this sort of life decision).

I'm a similar age and lived in a very liberal community, but my female peers and I certainly weren't fully decided - even when we were a few years older and after one of us had been pregnant. We did talk about how some people were really pro-life until they had a pregnancy scare, and then they were suddenly pro-choice.

But I like this message. It speaks to people like me, who abhor the idea of having an abortion myself but believe that it's very important that the choice is there for other people. It isn't a black & white issue - I understand why pro-life people feel the way that they do and I find it hard to offer arguments that they would find convincing because it's not a simple situation.

That said, birth control - Planned Parenthood's main mission - is a black and white situation. It should be free and widely accessible. I'd hand it out in schools at age 6 (if that weren't medically questionable). Maybe one day we'll go all Beta Colony and celebrate getting our menses with a birth control implant and a big party. (Only not the current shots/implants - those things can mess up your hormones terribly if you're sensitive).

And anyone who claims to be against abortion but who is also against birth control is a hypocrite who doesn't care about babies but just about controlling women.
posted by jb at 7:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


ZeroAmbition: "Yes, 5/10 out of the other 2/3 would likely do that. The other 5/10 would probably just turn very red in the face with anger and tell me to fuck off (maybe rightfully so and I usually do) after I made my feelings about abortion clear."

I have no idea where you're getting this impression of the pro choice movement. All you've said about your unhappiness with the pro choice label is that you're not "comfortable with all choices", which is not what "pro choice" actually means. I can't really argue against this straw man.

Do pro-lifers support all life? Of course not. Many of them support the state intervening to force the mother to risk her life for the sake of the unborn child. So why would you demand that the "pro choice" label have no such ambiguity?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I demand nothing. I just feel like a (bit of a) fake when I call myself pro-choice. You say that's ridiculous and you are probably right. I just can't tell.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2013


A fake? Why? You haven't clarified what particular choices you aren't comfortable with.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:09 AM on January 16, 2013


I'm not comfortable with abortion (at all).

I'm also not comfortable with telling other people what to do with their bodies.

It is big dilemma. Or not.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 8:14 AM on January 16, 2013


If you're uncomfortable with abortion, then don't get abortions, and let others do what they want with their bodies.

Where's the dilemma?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I should/could call myself pro-choice like that? It looks like I have your approval, I'm just not sure about everybody else.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 8:23 AM on January 16, 2013


words don't matter. Go knock on doors or something if this matters to you.
posted by univac at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2013


People sometimes understand "pro-life" to be a category within "pro-choice" - the choice to have the baby, as seen when people like Sarah Palin talk about difficult but worthwhile choices... Others understand it in its political context, a category that opposes or stands beyond pro-choice, the negation or destruction of any option (once you are pregnant, you are having the baby, just like any other woman who gets pregnant has to).

Pro-choice for some reason implies for me being comfortable with all choices and I'm not by a long shot (which is my problem obviously).

Do you mean you're not personally comfortable, or you're not okay with certain actions being legal? The issue of what you think is a good choice isn't the point. The issue of what you think should be a personal decision vs a government mandate is.

You can think it's a bad idea to get a tattoo, eat meat, not wear a seatbelt, marry too young, or spank your kid. The question is, when does a "bad idea" cross over from a personal disagreement into a social problem? When do you think it's worth passing legislation to stop people from doing certain things? Personal ideals aren't the point of government - the concern is what laws to pass that everyone has to follow.

Some people think abortion is not a bad idea; some think it's a bad idea but that it should be left to individuals to deal with; and some think it should be legislated. Being pro-choice means letting individuals make the decisions on their own.
posted by mdn at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This really isn't that hard. Pro choice means you make your choice and others make theirs. Is there some militant offshoot of the pro-choice movement that I haven't seen that's trying to make every woman be comfortable with terminating their own pregnancies or using contraception when they don't want to?
posted by tonycpsu at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're against women being able to choose to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, then don't call yourself pro-choice. If you're okay with them making a decision you yourself might not make, then you're farther towards the pro-choice end things than not, whatever language you use.
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on January 16, 2013


It looks like I have your approval, I'm just not sure about everybody else.

You have my approval too, not that you need anyone's approval. You're for letting other people decide for themselves, therefore you are pro-choice. Simple.
posted by caryatid at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013


If legality is the only issue then I'm pro-choice, yep.

If morality/ethics/opinions/feelings is an issue then not so much. And yes, I think there are many pro-choicers to whom this is very important too, but maybe I'm to fixated on this.

rtha you say If you're okay with them making a decision you yourself might not make, then you're farther towards the pro-choice end things than not, whatever language you use.

Thing is, I'm not really okay with them making certain decisions, but still don't want them made illegal.

caryatid said: You have my approval too, not that you need anyone's approval. You're for letting other people decide for themselves, therefore you are pro-choice. Simple.

Thanks for saying this. I'm just very insecure navigating through this issue.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2013


"If morality/ethics/opinions/feelings is an issue then not so much. And yes, I think there are many pro-choicers to whom this is very important too, but maybe I'm to fixated on this."

Heh. You're exactly who this move away from "pro-choice" is supposed to capture. You ARE pro-choice (legality is pretty much the sine qua non), but you don't feel comfortable calling yourself "pro-choice." So PPA wants to come up with a new way for you to keep on being pro-choice but to not feel uncomfortable.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think one of the problems with the "pro-choice" label is that it reinforces the idea that abortion is just a choice, not a necessity - somewhat on the par of "Should I wear the blue hat or the red one?" And for some people it is, but that may not be the case for a lot of other people - they may genuinely struggle with that decision. And the "pro-life" fellows have been very good at making people believe that "pro-choice" people believe just that - that abortion can be used as casually as condoms.
posted by corb at 10:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


If morality/ethics/opinions/feelings is an issue then not so much. And yes, I think there are many pro-choicers to whom this is very important too, but maybe I'm to fixated on this.

This is the whole point of being pro-choice.

No one except the most absolutist anarchist thinks everything in society should be decided on a personal basis - most people agree there should be some laws that everyone agrees to follow.

No one except the most absolutist fascist thinks we should legislate every single choice everyone makes.

Broadly speaking, we want some laws but also other things left for us to decide on our own. The problems arise when we disagree about which things belong in which category. Can we force people to wear helmets? Can we force them to not drink alcohol? Abortion is just another one of these situations. It isn't about what you personally feel. It's a question of whether you want to make it a law or consider it an individual choice.
posted by mdn at 10:17 AM on January 16, 2013


@Caryatid: What makes someone a "fully-realized human"? Every human being is in the course of lifespan development until death. The distinctions between a zygote and a pre-teen are meaningful and plentiful in some senses, but that doesn't stop them from both being stages in human development—this is simply biological. The idea that you've somehow stopped or completed developing is simply false.

@tonycpsu"Is there some militant offshoot of the pro-choice movement that I haven't seen that's trying to make every woman be comfortable with terminating their own pregnancies?" Yes. (E.g. here and here.) Awareness campaigns have existed since the 1970s (there was a print ad campaign, but I can't find any links...) that have attempted to normalize and de-stigmatize it. As far as how militant that is, I can't say, but it is certainly the goal of at least some wing of the pro-choice movement to make women comfortable with willful termination. In fact, why wouldn't they...?
posted by koavf at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2013


It speaks to people like me, who abhor the idea of having an abortion myself but believe that it's very important that the choice is there for other people.

Do you think that people who happily call ourselves pro-choice are all "Woooooo! Abortions for everyone!"?

I'm pro-choice, and in fact don't think the label goes far enough (would really love to see us go back to using the dirty, dirty A-word). I've never had an abortion. At this point in my life, abortion wouldn't be my first impulse if I were to find myself pregnant.

But I also know that it's important that abortion be available to other women who would choose it. I know that it's important for me to respect those women's choices, regardless of whether I personally agree with them or not. I also know that the reason I've never had an abortion is because of reliable access to various methods of contraception, and that if we drop the ball on abortion, the whole concept of women making our own reproductive choices is weakened.

So I'm pro-choice. And so are you.
posted by Sara C. at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2013


Yeah, I have a hard time calling posting pictures and stories from one's own abortion "militant" when the pro-life movement has been actually, you know, shooting doctors and bombing clinics.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


(And, of course, those "militant" pro-choicers don't want to take away anyone's right to choose not to terminate pregnancies.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2013


words don't matter. Go knock on doors or something if this matters to you.

We already do. Christ.
posted by Sara C. at 11:23 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, you've almost convinced one person. Now you have to convince 60 million other people, when the same arguments haven't managed to convince them over the last several decades. Clearly, they are the problem.
posted by Etrigan at 11:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not a consensus. We don't have to fight for a few people (let's call them the "undecided voters" in the reproductive rights debate). We have to fight to keep abortion legal and widely available.

I don't care if a bunch of ignorant pedants don't feel comfortable calling themselves pro-choice. I care if those same ignorant pedants have the ability to be in control of their bodies.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on January 16, 2013


Or we could maybe measure it in the terms that matter. Personhood bills failed last year in Mississippi and several other states. Roe is locked in until at least 2016. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and others lost elections primarily because of their anti-abortion and in some cases anti-contraception stances. There is still plenty of work to do, but the momentum is with the pro-choice movement right now.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:32 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As the risk of derailing (I'm sorry), what software was used to make this?

Thanks.
posted by b33j at 12:59 PM on January 16, 2013


I'm pro-abortion. Safe abortion is a health care landmark. The sheer amount of human suffering averted by the availability of safe abortion is enormous. I am woo yay abortion, just like I'm woo yay antibiotics. I'm not running around forcing azythromycin down anyone's throat but damn, antibiotics are awesome. So is abortion.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:05 PM on January 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


@tonycpsu: Well, I didn't come up with the designation "militant": you did. You said that you weren't aware of "militant" groups that want women to be comfortable with willful termination. There are several who do have that goal. There certainly have been pro-life activists who have resorted to violence and intimidation, just as there have been pro-life activists who have been murdered for their beliefs. I don't understand your point.
posted by koavf at 1:13 PM on January 16, 2013


sorry, koavf, there has been ONE pro-life activist murdered for his actions on his beliefs. Some people just can't get the facts right.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


…and by a dude who just didn't like the pictures that the activist was displaying, while the dude was on his way to commit a second, unrelated murder.

It is pitchfork-worthy bullshit to try to paint that as equivalent.
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


koavf,

For some reason you have twice now either willfully or carelessly assigned your own definitions or false equivalencies to my words "zygote" and "actual, fully realized human." Maybe you could better understand what I'm saying if you stopped doing this.

Zygotes are not humans. Almost half of all zygotes never get beyond the "potential human" stage.

"Actual, fully realized" does not mean "finished developing." It means "already existing, real, authentic; not figurative, potential, or virtual."

Picture yourself in a burning building with a zygote and an actual, fully realized human, and you can only save one. This should make the difference crystal clear.
posted by caryatid at 3:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I didn't come up with the designation "militant": you did. You said that you weren't aware of "militant" groups that want women to be comfortable with willful termination.

Yes, he did use the term, but you are the one who used that label to mischaracterize the purposes of two websites that seek to demystify and promote understanding of a legal medical procedure.

From the first: "My intention in documenting and sharing my abortion is to demystify the sensationalist images propagated by the religious and political right on this matter."

From the second: "Thus, this is a pro-abortion rights project that is most concerned with creating space for women and men to speak honestly about their lives and their abortion experiences."

I find a rather glaring absence of anything approaching militancy in either of these stated purposes.
posted by caryatid at 3:35 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude, that "this is my abortion" site is awesome, thanks for sharing it. It's also, like, the complete opposite of "militant."
posted by agregoli at 5:21 PM on January 16, 2013


@tonycpsu: Well, I didn't come up with the designation "militant": you did. You said that you weren't aware of "militant" groups that want women to be comfortable with willful termination. There are several who do have that goal. There certainly have been pro-life activists who have resorted to violence and intimidation, just as there have been pro-life activists who have been murdered for their beliefs. I don't understand your point.

You can't seriously think that some deranged psycho who was personally offended and working alone is in the same league as Army of God, ACLA and their borderline hitlist or Operation Rescue helping a nutjob stalk and kill George Tiller.
posted by Talez at 6:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


koavf: "pro-life activists who have been murdered for their beliefs"

Don't you mean activist? Or did Mr. Pouillon have a mouse in his pocket when he was killed?

Nobody should be killed for protesting peacefully, but the fact that you're trying to equate this to the long history of anti-abortion murders and other violent crimes suggests that you're getting high on your own supply. Please don't insult the intelligence of the community with this nonsense.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:24 PM on January 16, 2013


I just remembered that Palin and Bachman exist. They form a substantial argument against my unqualified pro- woman stance.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2013


If changing the branding actually helps more women approach Planned Parenthood when they need its services, or give money to them, then I guess they gotta do what they gotta do. I'll still be calling myself pro-choice and trying to shift the Overton window in the direction of letting every woman make her own decisions about having babies without interference from the government.
posted by harriet vane at 9:23 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


pro-life activists who have been murdered for their beliefs.

Well, that one dude was murdered for being a dickhead by somebody who clearly had problems with anger management and wasn't involved with either side of the abortion "debate" and the victim's own son said that, yep, dad was a dickhead.

But other than that, he died for his beliefs. Not because he was an obnoxious loudmouth who angered the wrong person.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:38 AM on January 17, 2013


@Caryatid: I'm not "assigning my own definitions or false equivalencies to" "zygote" and "actual, fully realized human" because I have no idea what you mean by the latter. It appears that you're conflating "human" and "person" but I can't understand you. What is the definition of an "actual, fully realized human"? How do you know that a person is "realized"? As far as the allegation "you are the one who used [the word militant] to mischaracterize the purposes of two websites that seek to demystify and promote understanding of a legal medical procedure," that's not what I did at all. If you recall, I abjured using the term. Tonycpsu brought it up, not me.

@tonycpsu: Violence is wrong. And killing an innocent person is even more egregious. I would not now nor would I ever justify any act of violence. That having been said, if we're basically saying there's a red team and a blue team and the members of one are responsible for eight murders and the members of the other are responsible for one murder in the same time span, those actually are pretty equivalent. This is leaving aside issues related to abortion itself being violence, but focusing purely on the idea that it's okay to smear one party to this dispute as hyper-violent when it's patently not according to the source you provided.
posted by koavf at 2:43 AM on January 17, 2013


Violence is wrong. But 8 != 1. I'm not that great at math but even I know that.

And as far as I know, no pro-choice groups maintain and publicize lists of anti-choice activists with their addresses and where their kids go to school, and talk about how they're murderers and wouldn't everything be better if these murderers weren't around anymore.
posted by rtha at 3:28 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


koavf, you might like to think of yourself as not justifying acts of violence, but in your desperation to make the false equivalence between the random, spur-of-the-moment act of violence that resulted in Pouillon's death and the anti-abortion movement's long history of carefully plotted murders and clinic bombings, you're showing that you're more okay with certain kinds of violence than others. No rational human being could put these on the same scale or even in the same conversation. You and I don't have to come to an agreement on the abortion issue, but can we at least agree on the basics of arithmetic?

Who is the Operation Rescue of the pro-choice movement? Where is the pattern of pro-choice violence comparable to the 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings that the pro-life movement has participated in?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:22 AM on January 17, 2013


I'm not "assigning my own definitions or false equivalencies to" "zygote" and "actual, fully realized human" because I have no idea what you mean by the latter. It appears that you're conflating "human" and "person" but I can't understand you.

Oh, puh-lease.

When you are in a hole, quit digging.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:07 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"That having been said, if we're basically saying there's a red team and a blue team and the members of one are responsible for eight murders and the members of the other are responsible for one murder in the same time span, those actually are pretty equivalent. This is leaving aside issues related to abortion itself being violence, but focusing purely on the idea that it's okay to smear one party to this dispute as hyper-violent when it's patently not according to the source you provided."

That's bullshit. Flat out, and it's embarrassing to have to explain to an adult why.

To take your stupid analogy even semi-seriously, it's like one team is responsible for eight murders and then some asshole who's not even on the playing field comes along and shoots one of that team because he doesn't like his t-shirt, leaving the other team baffled.

If you say things like this, the only rational response is to treat you like an ideologue and an idiot.
posted by klangklangston at 8:43 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how exactly I got on this track, but to clarify, no, I'm not in favor of anyone threatening or conspiring to harm anyone and you are correct that there are pro-life groups who do this. You are also correct that one needs to take that into account when one considers violence related to this issue—I don't want to give a pass to anyone doing anything violent and I tacitly have. The point that I'm trying to make (and which I clearly did not) is that it is not fair to cast the pro-life movement as being violent as such—it's bad-faith and ideological itself (just like calling someone who is pro-life "anti-choice" or "anti-woman.") Also, (human) zygotes are human. You may not care about them very much, but human go through stages of development, including in the womb. Is a newborn an "actual, fully realized human"? If so, what makes him one?
posted by koavf at 10:50 AM on January 17, 2013


it's bad-faith and ideological itself (just like calling someone who is pro-life "anti-choice"

What? Someone who is pro-life is against letting the pregnant woman have the choice over whether or not to remain pregnant. How is it in bad faith to say they are anti-choice? That is explicitly what they are.
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


koavf: "is that it is not fair to cast the pro-life movement as being violent as such—it's bad-faith and ideological itself"

Pointing out the violent record of the anti-abortion movement is now considered bad faith? Do you deny these events happened? Do you have any evidence of a violent wing of the pro-choice movement on the same order of magnitude as what the anti-abortion movement has?

I am certain that a majority of anti-abortion activists would never kill or harm anyone for being pro choice, but many of them have. The numbers do not lie. These are not isolated incidents, and they're not rare. The best you could do to demonstrate equivalence is cite a single shooting and a couple of websites where women post stories and pictures.

You're really making a fool of yourself at this point.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:19 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Human tissue != human being.

Human tissue != person.

Anti-choice creeps screeching and shoving women going into PP are a dime a dozen.

Ohio locked up a pregnant woman for many months to force her to give birth.

The anti-choice organizers maintain a website listing doctors they want nutcases to hunt down and murder. They've been very successful in this.

Endless anti-choice politicians claim rape isn't a big deal, and can even be a gift.

Do not tell lies about the overwhelming amount of violence perpetrated and supported by the anti-choice, anti-women faction.

Or at least, don't tell them here. You will always be called out on it. It will not help you gain status or respect. It can only make you look like a fool, a hater, and a liar.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


@rtha: Persons who are pro-life are not opposed to choice or choices as such, just as persons who are pro-choice aren't in favor of all choices (cf. here or here.)

@tonycpsu: Pointing out the violent record of the anti-abortion movement is not bad faith. In fact, I wish there was more reform amongst pro-lifers to root out the violent element within the movement and make it a genuinely pacifist and consistent life ethic one. My problem is not with pointing out this hypocrisy and evil on the part of a segment of pro-lifers, but with the rhetorical feint that says, "I don't have to listen to what that movement says because of the murder of George Tiller." And there is an added layer of hypocrisy from that perspective because pro-choicers don't want to be written off as baby-killers. This is what is bad faith about it.

@five fresh fish: I didn't lie about anything and I'm not here to justify any of that nonsense that you listed. I just asked a question and you're decidedly not giving me an answer, but a laundry list of things that are not related to my question. If you don't want to answer it, that's fine, but why you bring up "anti-choice politicians" who "claim that rape isn't a big deal" when that has nothing to do with me is confusing and just makes you look like a crank. I'm not an apologist for the right-wing or Todd Akin or "rape culture" or whatever else you evidently think I am: I would just like you to tell me what you think an "actual, fully realized human being" is.

posted by koavf at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2013


koavf: "My problem is not with pointing out this hypocrisy and evil on the part of a segment of pro-lifers, but with the rhetorical feint that says, "I don't have to listen to what that movement says because of the murder of George Tiller." And there is an added layer of hypocrisy from that perspective because pro-choicers don't want to be written off as baby-killers. "

Please point out where in this thread that happened. Thanks.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2013


Any time someone says that "they're anti-choice and anti-woman." This thread is (was) about branding and rhetoric regarding this issue and that's all I came here to discuss. The fact that it gets derailed by wildly accusatory responses basically proves my point.

You asked me some question about militancy on the part of pro-choicers. I refused to use the term militancy and then you retorted something about crazy violence that never had anything to do with what I was saying. The way that you've acted here is a perfect example of the problem that I'm trying to highlight. We could have had a much more interesting and pleasant discussion had you not done that and actually answered the question that I asked earlier.
posted by koavf at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2013


it's bad-faith and ideological itself just like calling someone who is pro-life "anti-choice" or "anti-woman.")

Someone who thinks the "rights" of a zygote trump the right of a woman to decide what she does with her own body is profoundly anti-woman and anti-choice.

Also, (human) zygotes are human.

Again, you are conflating the adjective human with the noun human. A zygote is "the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined." It's human the same way my fingernail clipping is human, in that it contains human (adjective) cells. At some point about half of all zygotes will become humans (noun). The other half will not, and their failure to do so does not constitute murder. Your opinion that a zygote is the same as a human is only your opinion, nothing more. It is not a fact. No one is required to accept your opinion as fact, or to live their lives accordingly.

All through this debate you have consistently used dishonest tactics. You have used false equivalencies and pretended not to understand the meanings of ordinary words used in a perfectly understandable manner and you have selectively misquoted people. For example:

tonycpsu: Is there some militant offshoot of the pro-choice movement that I haven't seen that's trying to make every woman be comfortable with terminating their own pregnancies or using contraception when they don't want to?

you misquoting tonycpsu: "Is there some militant offshoot of the pro-choice movement that I haven't seen that's trying to make every woman be comfortable with terminating their own pregnancies?"

One of the things I like best about Metafilter is that it is (most often) a space where honest, respectful discussion of sometimes contentious ideas takes place. I have not been a member here as long as some others, but I have been reading here long enough to know that these kinds of dishonest "debate" tactics will get you nowhere.
posted by caryatid at 11:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


@rtha: Persons who are pro-life are not opposed to choice or choices as such, just as persons who are pro-choice aren't in favor of all choices (cf. here or here.)

Don't be obtuse. In the context of abortion, those who do not think a woman should be allowed to choose whether or not to remain pregnant are anti-choice. We are not talking about all choices everywhere about everything. We are talking specifically about whether or not a woman should be allowed to choose to have an abortion. Those who think she shouldn't be allowed to choose are anti-choice.
posted by rtha at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2013


I just asked a question and you're decidedly not giving me an answer

I was not addressing your question, I was addressing foolish and untrue statements you made about zygotes being human and the anti-choice movement not being inherently violent.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, neither of those things are true, so I'm going to stick with what I said earlier.

Also, a comment I made either got deleted or not saved somehow—either way, this thread's probably done for as far as I'm concerned. It's a shame that it wasn't a more interesting and on-topic discussion and I blame myself in part. Here's hoping that future conversations where I participate involve me doing a better job of not getting derailed and going down the rabbithole of bickering about tangents.
posted by koavf at 4:57 PM on January 17, 2013


[guys, enough with the back and forth bickering please.]
posted by mathowie at 6:39 PM on January 17, 2013


Rachel Maddow: Despite murder, threats by anti-abortion extremists, clinic plans persist

New clinic aims to serve Kansas women despite threats, intimidation
posted by homunculus at 10:33 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Maddow show continued its special report on reproductive rights last night (1, 2) by focusing on four states (MS, AK, ND, SD) that only have a single clinic left. Mississippi in particular is very close to banning abortion entirely using an onerous TRAP law aimed at doctors who perform the procedure.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


All part of the War Against Women.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 AM on January 19, 2013


I just stumbled across this point:

Even after you are dead, you have legal autonomy over your body. Your organs aren't given to others to save lives unless you gifted your corpse.

Anti-choicers have less respect for living women than they do dead bodies.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


We Have Always Resisted
Becoming mindful of the historical activism of trans women of color prior to Roe v. Wade, offers the potential for making a significant impact when organizing for reproductive rights. Their experience of injustice might extend far beyond safe access to abortions, still, it is deeply connected to the multiple oppressions non trans women of color experience. By recognizing this, we can begin to move reproductive justice conversations forward in a way that provides opportunity for inclusion rather than the continued fragmentation of womanhood currently plaguing the movement. The legacy of trans women of color activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, provide excellent points of reference for this suggestion.
All part of the War Against Women.
You mean Obama's War On Women? - warning, extremely stupid.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2013


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