Planned Parenthood calls abortion “a difficult decision” in many of its consent forms and fact sheets. When NARAL launched a film on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2013, the president of the pro-choice organization called abortion “a difficult decision” women and couples face.
Lawmakers use the adjective, too. “It was a difficult, difficult decision, but it was the right one,” Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores said last month in defending her choice to have an abortion at age 16. In 2005, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton described the decision to have an abortion as “one of the most fundamental, difficult and soul-searching decisions a woman and a family can make” and “often the most difficult [decision] that a woman will ever make.”
However, when the pro-choice community frames abortion as a difficult decision, it implies that women need help deciding, which opens the door to paternalistic and demeaning “informed consent” laws. It also stigmatizes abortion and the women who need it.
Often, abortion isn’t a difficult decision. In my case, it sure wasn’t.
Good for her. I’m glad it was a piece of cake. Easy-peasy. A snap. (Or was that the baby’s spine?)
Who needs the agro?
Today, when advocates on both sides of the debate talk about the decision to have an abortion, they preface their statements with adjectives such as “difficult,” “hard” or “reluctant.” For anti-abortion conservatives, the reason for using such language is clear: Abortion is murder, they contend, but characterizing a woman who has one as a murderer is a bit, well, harsh. A more charitable view is to assume that she must have struggled with making this immoral choice. Pro-choice advocates use the “difficult decision” formulation for a similar reason, so as not to demonize women. It also permits pro-choice candidates to look less dogmatic.
But there’s a more pernicious result when pro-choice advocates use such language: It is a tacit acknowledgment that terminating a pregnancy is a moral issue requiring an ethical debate. To say that deciding to have an abortion is a “hard choice” implies a debate about whether the fetus should live, thereby endowing it with a status of being. It puts the focus on the fetus rather than the woman.
And we can’t have that! The “status of a being”? Piffle!
If the fetus is not a being (as if!), she doesn’t tell us what it is instead. I’d kind of like to know.
Not only is abortion not a difficult choice, it’s not even a choice:
Abortion rights groups are struggling to expand their message from “pro-choice” — which they say no longer resonates with voters as it once did — to more broadly encompass women’s health and economic concerns. The movement needs such recalibration precisely because it was drawn into a moral debate about the fetus’s hypothetical future rather than the woman’s immediate and tangible future. Once these groups locked themselves into a discussion of “choice,” terminating a pregnancy became an option rather than a necessity. Pro-choice groups would be a lot stronger, more effective and more in sync with the women they represent if they backed away from the defensive “difficult decision” posture.
Option, shmoption—get busy abortin’ or get busy buyin’…diapers.
There’s not all that much room between me and the pro-choice crowd. I want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare, just as they do. The only difference is I mean it. The “pro-neccessity” crowd does not.