Today marks my official return from an unofficial hiatus. Without much ado, I want to get straight to a matter that’s been on my mind—it’s been rattling the cages and pulling at the cobwebs so I won’t delay in letting it out.

The subject today is semantics and the context is popular usage. I guess that could be the preface to anything, but this isn't anything. It's a pressing issue, both legal and moral, and it sits on the fence between life and death. At first glance, you wouldn’t think so because the problem hides behind the liberty-fattened term “pro-choice.”

“Choice” sounds liberating, a pat on the back for self-determination. But, while “pro-choice” implies some kind of decision between at least two options, it doesn’t seem to identify the options in question.

The second, I imagine, stronger point is this: if the poster child of your movement is pro-choice (which in terms of meaning turns out to be an orphan concept), it implies that the opposing movement should be called “anti-choice.” But the “pro-life” (aka“anti-abortion”) movement is not anti-choice at all. Those who take a “pro-life” stance encourage a particular choice in favor of unborn life, but this doesn’t take away the freedom to choose otherwise. In other words, choice is not unique to the “pro-choice” movement and the term itself is therefore useless.

That is, unless it’s interpreted in legal terms. In this sense, the legal options would be allowing the woman to choose (to abort or not) vs. “not allowing” her to choose. But the problem is that the law cannot regulate the will. Women can still choose in favor of abortion whether the law allows them to or not. If the sleeping giant of conscience awakes someday and the Supreme Court decides to make abortion illegal, women will still be able to choose. The law will not necessarily change their minds or their actions. If laws could do this then we wouldn’t have a problem with underage drinking, illegal drugs, or drunk driving.

Alright then, if “pro-choice” is not the most appropriate word for what the movement entails then what is? Either it would need to be more specific “pro-legal choice” (to abort) or “pro death.” Many would object to the latter—isn’t that too macabre? I suppose it depends on whether you think shredding a human being to pieces is macabre.

Those who support “pro-choice” could also declare: “I’m not pro-death. In fact, I would choose in favor of life, but I think it’s up to the woman to decide on a case-by-case basis.” Is that any different than saying: “I wouldn’t commit murder but if someone else decides to do it, that’s okay”? We’ll have to follow that up with “And if that someone decides to kill me, well, that’s okay too.”


Leave a Reply

What Does It Mean To Be Human?