But these figures alone can be misleading, and Pollitt does an excellent job of unpacking them and showing the contradictions in our views, as well as the limits to what surveys can tell us about the decisions Americans make for themselves (an old abortion joke, according to Pollitt: "When should abortion be legal? Rape, incest, and me"), or even which policies they'd support given the chance. One piquant example from Pro: More than a third of those who call themselves "pro-life" also say women should have the right to choose abortion.
How normal? Nearly one in three American women will have terminated a pregnancy by age 45, and six in 10 abortions are performed on women who are already mothers. They're not—we're not—"other." Those numbers are from Pro, and when I call it "revelatory," I want to add, oddly so. You can't live in the abortion-is-murder culture for all of your adult life and not have it affect you, even if you're pro-choice. So while I already knew much of the basic information Pollitt imparts, I'd "forgotten" some facts, and lost track of how the facts informed my pro-choice convictions.
The strategy of the pro-choice worldview, seen in the broadest possible historical lens, is leading from behind. “Women have always sought to end pregnancies,” we are told, and our moral imperative is to assist them to do that as “safely” as possible. What the pro-choice worldview fails to take into account is that human beings are morally fractured creatures who resort to violence against helpless victims as a means of managing the psychological difficulties of life.
In Parker’s world, abortion is never a violent act, even when he is referring to the “disarticulation” (by which he means dismemberment) of the inhabitant of the womb. He also refuses to take into consideration why Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Abby Johnson, Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”), and so many others have converted from pro-choice to pro-life. There is no response to the writings of pro-life feminists, who have argued forcefully that abortion on demand is a very masculine response to the challenges of life.
The wine was for me, you must know by now. To calm my nerves, because I came to Pollitt not just as an admirer of Pro but also to discuss my intention to write about my personal experience with its topic. I'm tired of the rhetoric, even from pro-choice advocates, who in their understandable defensive posture seem to restrict themselves to discussing the most "sympathetic" abortions: those performed because of rape or incest, because the life or health of the mother is in danger, or when the fetus has some devastating disease like Tay-Sachs. All those taken together account for less than a tenth of the more than one million pregnancies terminated in this country each year, Pollitt tells us in Pro: "So sorry, fifteen-year-old girls who got drunk at a party, single mothers with all the kids they can handle and no money, mothers preoccupied with taking care of disabled children, students with just one more year to a degree, battered women, women who have lost their job or finally just landed a decent one, and forty-five-year-olds who have already raised their kids to adulthood, to say nothing of women who just don't feel ready to be a mother, or maybe even don't ever want to be a mother."
Abortion is a very active topic on the Internet. Google found over 213 million hits for "pro-life" and over 27 million hits for "pro-choice" on 2017-OCT-17.
The pro-life movement, in contrast, is arguing that every conception is sacred and that society has a responsibility to protect the defenseless.” The silence from second-wave feminists about the ethical ambiguities in their pro-choice belief system has been deafening.
The terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are examples of political framing. They are terms which purposely try to define their philosophies in the best possible light, while attempting to define their opposition in the worst possible light: "Pro-choice" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-coercion" or "anti-choice", while "pro-life" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-death" or "anti-life". Similarly each side's use of the term "rights" ("reproductive rights", "right to life of every unborn child") implies a validity in their stance, given that the presumption in language is that rights are inherently a good thing and so implies an invalidity in the viewpoint of their opponents. (In liberal democracies, a right is seen as something the state and civil society must defend, whether human rights, victims' rights, children's rights, etc. Many states use the word rights in fundamental laws and constitutions to define basic civil principles; both the United Kingdom and the United States possess a Bill of Rights. ) Other examples of political framing frequently employed in this context are: "unborn baby", "unborn child", and "pre-born child".
It is not simply that the authors avoid reading and commenting on the pro-life literature because it might unsettle their worldview; they don’t draw on the pro-choice works either. Parker does not refer to the arguments provided by Judith Jarvis Thomson’s or by books on abortion by David Boonin, Kristin Luker, Ronald Dworkin, Michael Tooley, Peter Singer, Celeste Condit, Eileen McDonagh, et al. One does not find any discussion of the deep questions of moral and legal philosophy that are raised by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Even further outside the author’s ken are the work of John Rawls and his critics, or the relevance to the abortion debate of authors such as René Girard, John Locke, and Thomas Aquinas.
In a question-and-answer session after her talk, she recommended that audience members seek to start dialogue on the difficult topic of abortion with open-ended questions, and to “seek to understand where (another) person is coming from.” She also used the analogy of a person choosing rape to address the thought that pro-life views cannot be “forced on” pregnant women, saying that just as it is illegal to make the choice to rape someone, it ought to be illegal to choose to end the life of a fetus.