Rich Wheeler's Pro-Life / Pro-Choice Page

Revealing pro-abortion rhetoric as Smoke and Mirrors
(or, as mafiosi call it, da termination of da truth).

(1 September 1996; updated 12 February 1998)

[rosebud in pool of blood]

Why You Can't Be Both Pro-choice and Pro-life

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Within the context of the abortion debate, pro-life means valuing life above economic, career, social, emotional, and minor health concerns; and pro-choice means valuing the freedom to abort the gestation of a pre-natal baby over the responsibility to protect the innocent.

The distinction seemed clear, but now some pro-aborts are trying to be clever by labelling themselves pro-life, too! They may be pro-life (even Hitler was pro- some lives), but not within the context of the abortion debate. In context, when a pro-choicer attempts to usurp the pro-life label, the effect is to confuse the language of the debate and to divert attention away from the issue. Instead of contributing to a discussion of principles, the pro-choicer initiates a new skirmish over semantics.

The debate over abortion weighs the rights of pre-natal babies against the rights of their unwilling mothers. To arrive at the "pro-choice" position, one must value more highly either a (high) "quality of life" for the child if born -- which argument is usually brought up as a defensive rationalization, rather than as a conflicting interest -- or a high quality of life for the mother, as measured in terms of prosperity, status, and comfort. Note that the child's assumed quality of life depends entirely on the mother's quality of life. If adoption is considered, then the basis (i.e., the mother's quality of life) of such a prognostication becomes irrelevant. Therefore, the child's-quality-of-life argument is an obvious rationalization for a decision based on the mother's self-interests. If, then, one is characterized by what one values most highly, pro-aborts are not pro-life, but rather, pro-greed, pro-egotism, and pro-narcissism. There is a term for those who value "e;freedom of choice" above the sanctity of the life of the innocent: anarchists.

Let me explain another way. I don't want anyone to finish thoughtfully reading this and go away thinking that they can support legal abortion and still honestly call themselves "pro-life." Suppose your team, the Browsers, is about to play the Gophers in the local Fingerbowl. Someone asks which you want to win. "Well," you reply, "I'm a Browser fan, but I'm pro-Gopher." Come again? If you care, either you want one to prevail, or the other. . . or you want a tie.

It's that way with abortion. Either you value the mother's right to put out a contract on her child to the exclusion of her child's rights, or you value the burden placed on the child by abortion more than you value placed on the mother by a ban on abortion. The closest analog to a tie is a ban on abortions after some developmental stage (e.g., extra-utero viability or the ability to experience pain). Even then, you are letting the same values (quality of life, comfort, etc.) be the deciding factors rather than the sanctity of life: Such a position is not pro-life, but pro-narcissism.

Yes, it is clever for a pro-abort to claim to be pro-life; but those who support abortion in any but the most extreme cases, yet call themselves pro-life, are either trying to confuse us or are lying to themselves. They are clever -- like snakes, I think. By making such a claim, they try to disguise themselves as moderate, to disguise the fact that they do not assign to life the highest value, and to dominate the rhetoric of the debate. An honest pro-abort cannot claim to be both pro-choice and pro-life.

But I am! (both Pro-life and Pro-choice)

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As misused by pro-aborts, the term pro-life can mean anything from opposition to death for oneself to opposition to death camps. Within the context of the abortion debate, however, being pro-life means that one values the sanctity of life, including pre-natal human life, over economic, career, social, psychological, and minor health concerns. This working definition implies that the opposing (con-) position, that of contra-lifers, somehow supports death -- which abortion brings about. Whether directly or indirectly, contra- or anti-life accurately describes the so-called pro-choice position.

The term pro-life also implies that pro-lifers have made a judgement that the interests of the pre-natal baby -- namely, the right to life, the right to make his/her own choice about life when mature, the right to live free from the torture necessarily committed in the process of performing an abortion -- outweigh the interests of the pregnant mother -- who wishes to be free from the costs and responsibilities of motherhood, and who has rejected the relationships, joys, and benefits of motherhood. It is not that pro-lifers are "in love with the fetus," as columnist Ellen Goodman has accused them of; but rather that they have considered both sides of the conflict and sided with the one who has the most to lose if the other prevails. The concept here is that justice should prevail.

As explained above, the termpro-choice is being co-opted by pro-aborts in order to obfuscate the issue by shifting the focus of discussion from the morality of abortion to freedom of choice. This rhetorical salvo transform the debate from an adjudication between conflicting interests into a battle for dominance. The terms pro- and anti-choice shift our focus away from the primary conflict between the interests of the mother and those of her pre-natal baby, and the secondary conflict between the mother's freedom and the state's responsibility to protect the innocent and the defenseless, toward a straw-man conflict between the rights of the mother and those of the state.

With the above discussion as perspective, I am now prepared to counterattack. Since what's good for the gander is good for the goose. . .

  • I hereby reclaim the term pro-life on behalf of the right-to-life movement;

  • I hereby refute the contra-lifers' appropriation of the term pro-choice; and

  • I hereby claim the term pro-choice on behalf of the right-to-life movement.
My intent is not to obfuscate, but to clarify by returning the focus of the debate to the primary conflict. I am not a totalitarian. I do favor freedom of choice; I merely oppose the legality, in most circumstances, of one extreme option.

Therefore, I, an enemy of the injustice of abortion, am both pro-life and pro-choice.

The Exit sign

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© 1996, 1998 Richard Wheeler

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