Being anti-legal abortion does not make you ‘pro-life’
Letter to the Editor | Friday, February 10, 2017
On the day following Donald Trump’s inauguration, women around the world organized in protest. It has been reported that the Women’s March was the largest demonstration in U.S. history, with nearly three million people participating in cities across the country. Though the march was a success in the eyes of many, there was still some controversy surrounding the event. In the days leading up to the march, the anti-legal abortion group, New Wave Feminists, was removed from the list of official sponsors. This sparked a debate about where the “pro-life” movement belongs in feminism. While this is an important issue to discuss, there is another question that should be answered; what is “pro-life” and who should really belong to the “pro-life” movement? When you think about it, that term is rather silly. If you are not “pro-life,” then does that make you anti-life? Pro-death? With few exceptions, I doubt that anyone knows someone who would genuinely fall into either of those categories.
“Pro-life” is most commonly associated with those groups that oppose the decision that was made in Roe v. Wade and feel that abortion should not be legal. These anti-legal abortion groups have claimed the mantle of “pro-life,” but is opposition to legal abortion the thing that qualifies someone as “pro-life?” What about those that are anti-legal abortion, but want to see the Affordable Care Act repealed? Experts have said that repealing this without a proper replacement could leave millions uninsured and put thousands of lives at risk. Is that “pro-life?” What about those that are anti-legal abortion, but still support the death penalty? Or those that oppose the government programs that support poor Americans or oppose the implementation of a living wage so those same poor Americans can support themselves? Are these sets of beliefs to be considered “pro-life?”
I consider myself pro-life, but I am also pro-choice. I strongly believe that a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body, especially in cases involving rape, incest or in which the life of the mother is at risk. At the same time, I believe that as a society, we should strive to reduce the number of abortions that are performed in our country. Instead of outlawing abortions or restricting access to them to the point that they become essentially illegal, I believe that our goal should be to make the alternative choices more appealing. This can come in the form of better sexual education and easier access to contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy, or in providing affordable health care, child care, paid maternity leave and easier access to adoption to help mothers that may otherwise feel like they would be unable to support a child. Increased awareness of sexual assault and steps taken to prevent it can help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies from rape. There are countless ways in which we can work to reduce the number of abortions without violating a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.
So if it is possible to be both “pro-life” and pro-choice, what makes someone truly “pro-life?” Anti-legal abortion groups often state that “life begins at conception” but they sometimes forget that life does not end at birth. “Pro-life” is not defined by a single belief — that abortion should be outlawed — but is instead an upholding of human dignity. While ending abortion may be a part of this, it is not the same thing as being “pro-life.” To be “pro-life” is to remember that life has value at all stages.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.