Controversy over pro-choice label counterproductive

Published Sept. 26, 2014, 5:37 a.m. - 568 views


Every political movement needs a title. Something short and snappy. A headline. A label. Without one, how would we refer to that movement? Would we use superfluous, long-winded paragraphs or essays to refer to them in newspaper articles, in presidential debates or in day-to-day conversation?



Although this is, of course, completely unreasonable, this is what a growing number of abortion-related activists want us to move toward - because they "don't appreciate being labeled."



In the hot-button topic of abortion, activists have deemed the label "pro-choice" offensive and ineffective because every case is different, and the decision should be left to be made in privacy by a woman and her doctor. Please note the redundancy.



A poll conducted by the Democratic Party in 2010 revealed that many pro-life supporters were also in support of the decision in Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court affirmed women's right to have an abortion under the 14th Amendment. It was later clarified that these women were referring to their own decision-making and not what they want to push on others. Again, note the redundancy. How can the freedom that comes with pro-choice legislation be pushing your values on someone else?



The call to move away from the "pro-choice" label, which became an increasingly urgent point of emphasis when Republicans took control of the House and some state legislatures in 2010, hasn't won over everyone. The Pro-Choice Caucus in Congress, for example, is not worried about changing its name. Many parties view a name change as giving in to the pro-life movement.



Why should the pro-choice movement have to change its name? It seems like we want a new name simply because this is a change, and change is trendy - a revolution for revolution's sake.



Forty years ago we made the switch from pro-abortion to pro-choice, which is understandable because pro-abortion sounds like people want to force abortion onto other people, in the same way that pro-life supporters want to force the prohibition of abortion onto others. But, this makes no sense. Pro-choice invokes freedom and, well, choice. And who doesn't want the freedom to make her own choice, especially in this situation?



Despite all the commotion and talk of a new name, those against the label have yet to offer up an alternative.



The only major attempt at a new label has been put out by Planned Parenthood, whose replacement is the lack of a label altogether. In order to avoid and maybe even quell all the commotion, Planned Parenthood has stopped referring to the pro-choice movement and values in any one specific way with any one specific label.



Is there any more appropriate label for the pro-choice movement than "pro-choice?" Maybe, but seeing that the voters raising hell over this non-issue seem to be highly misinformed, it is very unlikely that they will muster one out.



With time we will see what comes up; maybe it'll be something hip, trendy and redundant, with a sort of chai tea latte thing going on. Wait, I've got it: the pro-in support of - rooting for this - Freedom - Liberty - Reproductive Rights movement. Let the un-funniness and nonsensicality of this last joke stand as a metaphor for the significance of this "issue."



Samir Zaman '18 zaman1@stolaf.edu is from Aurora, Ill. He majors in biology and history.



Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER

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Samir Zaman, class of is a major.

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