Warped Perceptions of “Pro-Choice”

I have to say that I’m getting really annoyed with claims that the new Democratic Party Platform is purposely appealing to conservative, anti-choice voters because of the language it contains supporting a woman’s right to have a child.

Like this article from The New Republic, which is on the website’s front page called “Why Pro-Lifers are Claiming Victory In the Democratic Platform Battle,” and argues that the language was put in there in order to pacify “pro-life” Democrats.  Despite the argument here, the platform actually doesn’t talk about “abortion reduction.”  It talks about unplanned pregnancy prevention and access to contraceptive services — as it should.  Huge difference, get it right.  Then there’s this LA Times article that claims the section is “explicit language intended to appeal to [pro-life evangelical] voters.”  So . . . that would be after the bit about how the party unequivocally supports Roe and abortion access, including public funding for abortions?  Because I can see how anything coming after that will really reel them in.

Let us take a look again at this supposedly placating paragraph:

The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

What exactly is not pro-choice about that?  Do Democrats not generally (at least in theory) support social programs?  Do we hate mothers and children?  Do we think that if you decide to have a kid, that was a “choice” and you’re therefore out on your own and deserve only scorn for insisting that you still deserve equal rights?

Um, no, that’s the other side actually.  Remember how they’re not pro-life, or pro-child, or pro-woman at all?

Look, I don’t know what the Dems were thinking when they put the language in.  But I specifically praised them because I saw it as an attempt to come at the issue from a reproductive justice standpoint, not as an attempt to soften their pro-choice stance or to portray giving birth as a necessarily better or more moral choice than an abortion.  And I still read it that way.  So hey, maybe it just had a nice dual purpose.  But when is this “pro-choice people want abortions for everyone and think we should provide no support to mothers” bullshit going to stop?  Just because anti-choicers hate everything and anything that controls a woman’s fertility doesn’t mean that pro-choicers hate everything and anything that allows a woman to use it.  And I can’t believe that the mainstream media still doesn’t get this.  According to the LA Times, even NARAL — who was not exactly one of the first passengers on the reproductive justice train — agrees with the language:

“It’s high time that Americans start looking at the reproductive health movement as much broader than just abortion focused,” said Kelli Conlin, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “This really underscores that nicely.”

Exactly.  I honestly would be much more upset if they failed to include anything to this effect in the platform than I ever would be over the entirely appropriate statement supporting the right to have a child.

Do I lose my pro-choice card now?  I guess it depends on who you ask.

0 thoughts on “Warped Perceptions of “Pro-Choice”

  1. ali

    Yeah, if only that kind of language WERE really able to win over “pro-lifers.” That would mean convincing most “pro-lifers” that birth control, improved access to OB/GYN care and education, and more comprehensive sex ed would actually PREVENT abortions. I’d LOVE to think that the Dems’ statement could convince the other side of that. Excuse me while I go drop some acid so I can continue that lovely hallucination… (Ignore me, because I am just *dripping* with sarcasm today.)

  2. SunlessNick

    The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child

    What exactly is not pro-choice about that?

    I guess it’s not just a warped perception of pro-choice as a warped perception of choice altogether: specifically that women don’t choose to have children; they submit to the will of God, allow nature to take it’s course, or whatever other synonym of going with flow you see fit to use. But because they see it as a less active course – neglecting to consider all the adjustments women must make to their lives to accommodate it – they see it as less of a choice.

    Which of course costs them their capacity to meaningfully respect women who make it.

  3. SunlessNick

    I didn’t say it clearly – though you seem to have made the connection already – seeing it as less of a choice also makes it harder to get that pro-choice people will be just as pro and supportive of it.

    The depressing thought is wondering how much of that shortsightedness is genuine, and how much is mendacity.


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